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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 7 March 2021

Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim to attend GCC summit as Saudi-Qatar borders reopen

The announcement follows an agreement brokered by Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Nawaf

Qatar’s ruler Sheikh Tamim will attend the GCC’s annual gathering in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, Doha said.

The statement follows the news of the agreement reached to reopen air space and land and sea borders between the two countries, effective from that evening.

Kuwait’s Foreign Minister Ahmad Al Sabah said the desire for unity and reunification was emphasised during a phone call between Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Nawaf, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Based on a proposal by Sheikh Nawaf, it was agreed that the borders between Saudi Arabia and Qatar would be reopened.

It was also agreed that the signing of the statement at Al Ula would mark “the beginning of a bright page in fraternal relations”.

The agreement was made on the eve of the 41st Gulf Co-operation Council Summit, being held in Al Ula.

In June 2017, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Manama and Cairo cut diplomatic, trade and transport ties with Qatar over its support of extremist groups that aim to destabilise the Middle East.

Sheikh Nawaf said he hoped the gathering would be good for the GCC countries and Egypt, and restore normal relations.

Shortly after the announcement of the opening of Saudi-Qatari borders, Sheikh Tamim confirmed he would attend.

Earlier, Prince Mohammed said the summit would be unifying and would “close the ranks”, Saudi Press Agency reported.

He said the kingdom’s policy was based on “achieving the ultimate interests of the GCC member states and the Arab countries”.

Sheikh Nawaf extended his “deep thanks and gratitude” to Saudi King Salman and Prince Mohammed “for the great interest they attach to the success of the summit’s work”, Sheikh Ahmad said.

On Monday, he delivered a verbal message from Sheikh Nawaf to Sheikh Tamim, which included discussing ways to strengthen ties between Kuwait and Qatar.

On Saturday, Sheikh Ahmad met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and delivered a message from Sheikh Nawaf.

Kuwait and the US have been working on mediation to resolve the Qatar crisis but it was ultimately the hosting of the GCC Summit that brought about the breakthrough.

The initial step of opening borders between Saudi Arabia and Qatar is expected to be followed by further developments as an intra-Gulf dialogue gains momentum from Tuesday onwards.

Nayef Al Hajraf, Secretary General of the GCC, said the agreement to reopen borders between Saudi and Qatar was “a reflection of sincere efforts being made to ensure the success of tomorrow’s summit across all areas, despite the exceptional circumstances created by the pandemic”.

“Today’s announcement once again proves that the GCC embodies a deep-rooted partnership that consistently overcomes challenges while advancing the interests of the GCC people thanks to the leadership and wisdom of its leaders,” Mr Al Hajraf said.

The UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr Anwar Gargash, said the summit would be an historic event through which Gulf cohesion would be restored.

“We are keen to ensure that the security, stability and prosperity of our countries and peoples are the first priority,” Dr Gargash said.

“We have more work [to do] and we are [going] in the right direction.”

After the announcement of the agreement to reopen Saudi-Qatar borders, a US official told The National Jared Kushner, a senior Middle East advisor to President Donald Trump, was on his way to Saudi Arabia to attend the GCC summit.

Maraya Concert Hall – the summit venue

Updated: January 5, 2021 11:36 AM

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