Egypt and Qatar hold first confidence-building meeting since Al Ula declaration

Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt agreed in January to restore diplomatic, trade and travel ties with Doha

Leaders from GCC states at Al Ula in Saudi Arabia. EPA
Leaders from GCC states at Al Ula in Saudi Arabia. EPA

Delegations from Qatar and Egypt met in Kuwait on Tuesday for the first time since the signing of an agreement last month to revitalise regional diplomacy, both countries' foreign ministries said.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt agreed in January at a summit in Al Ula in Saudi Arabia to restore diplomatic, trade and travel ties with Doha, which were suspended in 2017. At the time, Qatar stood accused of supporting organisations linked to terrorism.

Qatar on Monday similarly met a UAE delegation in Kuwait for their first bilateral talks.

"The two sides welcomed measures each has taken since signing the Al Ula statement as a step on the path of building confidence between the two fraternal countries," the statement said.

Since the agreement, air and travel links have resumed between Qatar and the four countries.

Each Arab nation is to arrange bilateral talks with Qatar to resolve individual issues.

Bahrain's foreign ministry said last month it had written to Doha, inviting them to send a delegation to Bahrain to start bilateral talks and implement the Al Ula agreement.

Qatar has not yet responded, Bahrain's foreign minister said.

Washington has strong ties with all the states involved, including Qatar, home of the largest US military base in the region, and considered the rift a threat to efforts to contain Iran. As such, Washington has pushed for a united Gulf front.

Updated: February 24, 2021 01:59 PM

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