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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 28 February 2021

Doha offers to broker Gulf dialogue with Iran

The proposal comes after relations are restored between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt

Qatar's Foreign Minister Mohammed Al Thani backs talks between Gulf countries and Iran. AP
Qatar's Foreign Minister Mohammed Al Thani backs talks between Gulf countries and Iran. AP

Doha can broker talks between Gulf states and Iran now that GCC ties are restored, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Al Thani told Bloomberg TV on Tuesday.

His comments came a day after Omar Ghobash, the UAE's Assistant Minister for Culture and Public Diplomacy, repeated to CNBC that the country backed conditional talks with Iran that tackle regional meddling and its ballistic missiles.

“Qatar will facilitate negotiations, if asked by stakeholders, and will support whoever is chosen to do so. We want the accomplishment, we want to see the deal happening," Mr Al Thani said.

The issue of the 2015 Iran nuclear accord is back on the table because incoming US President Joe Biden is keen to restart talks with Tehran about two years after Donald Trump withdrew from the deal.

Qatar maintained close ties with Iran in recent years and the countries share several oil and gas projects.

Relations were mended between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt before the 41st GCC summit at Al Ula in Saudi Arabia this month.

The move ended a three-year Gulf crisis and travel, economic and diplomatic ties have started to resume.

Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim Al Thani attended the summit for the first time since 2017, when the four countries cut ties with Doha after accusing it of supporting extremist groups and meddling in the internal affairs of neighbouring states. Doha denied the accusations.

In his opening address at the latest summit, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said that the region needed a co-ordinated front to face challenges, including on Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missiles programmes.

On Saturday, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said that he expected the kingdom’s embassy in Doha to reopen “within days”.

Full diplomatic relations will resume, he said in Riyadh alongside Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi.

Qatari TV channel beIN Sports was broadcast in Saudi Arabia on Monday.

In July, Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Competition said it had cancelled the licence of the broadcaster, which has been banned from broadcasting in the kingdom since mid-2017.

The broadcaster’s website was blocked as of Monday.

Qatar Airways resumed flights through Saudi airspace on January 7, with the first plane flying from Doha to Johannesburg.

Qatar Airways employees wait at the boarding counter ahead of the first flight bound for Cairo after the resumption of flights between Qatar and Egypt, at Qatar's Hamad International Airport near the capital Doha on January 18, 2021. Egypt reopened its airspace to Qatari flights on January 18 following a thaw in relations between Doha and a Saudi-led bloc. Egypt in June 2017 joined Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in cutting ties with Qatar, accusing it of being too close to Iran and backing the Muslim Brotherhood, seen by Cairo and its Gulf allies as a "terrorist" group. Qatar has denied the charges. / AFP / KARIM JAAFAR
Qatar Airways employees wait at the boarding counter ahead of the first flight bound for Cairo after the resumption of flights between Qatar and Egypt, at Qatar's Hamad International Airport near the capital Doha on January 18, 2021. Egypt reopened its airspace to Qatari flights on January 18 following a thaw in relations between Doha and a Saudi-led bloc. Egypt in June 2017 joined Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in cutting ties with Qatar, accusing it of being too close to Iran and backing the Muslim Brotherhood, seen by Cairo and its Gulf allies as a "terrorist" group. Qatar has denied the charges. / AFP / KARIM JAAFAR

Saudia and Qatar Airways resumed flights between Doha and Riyadh on January 11.

Bahrain also resumed flights and Qatar released Sami Al Haddad, a bodybuilding champion, and two other Bahrainis who were detained during fishing trips, Bahrain's Interior Ministry said last Thursday.

The first flights from Qatar to Egypt resumed on Monday and transport links with the UAE have also been restored.

Egypt reopened its airspace to flights from Qatar on January 18 after a thaw in relations with Doha. AFP 
Egypt reopened its airspace to flights from Qatar on January 18 after a thaw in relations with Doha. AFP 

Updated: January 20, 2021 12:38 PM

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