Focused on ending Qatar row, Gulf leaders head to Saudi Arabia summit

Focused on ending Qatar row, Gulf leaders head to Saudi Arabia summit

Gulf Arab leaders gather in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday for a summit that is expected to see a formal agreement towards ending a long-running dispute with Qatar that shattered Gulf unity at a time of heightened regional tensions with Iran.
Riyadh, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and non-Gulf Egypt severed diplomatic, trade and travel ties with Qatar in mid-2017 over allegations Doha supports terrorism. Qatar denies that and says the boycott aims to curb its sovereignty.
Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani is headed to al-Ula, where the summit is being held, state media reported, after an announcement that Saudi Arabia would reopen its airspace and sea and land border to Qatar under a deal that a senior US official said would be signed on Tuesday.
Bahrain will be represented by its crown prince instead of the king at the annual summit and the UAE delegation is headed by the federation’s vice president, who is also the ruler of Dubai.
While Saudi Arabia made clear it intended to lift the embargo, the other three countries did not immediately comment in on the issue, but the US official said “it’s our expectation” they would also join.
Under the emerging deal, Qatar will suspend lawsuits related to the boycott, the official said.
All of the countries are US allies. Qatar hosts the region’s largest US military base, Bahrain is home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, and Saudi Arabia and the UAE host US troops.
The development is the latest in a series of Middle East deals sought by Washington — the others involving Israel and Arab states — aimed at building a united front against Iran.
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, assigned to work on the dispute by US President Donald Trump, is due to attend the ceremony in the historical city of al-Ula along with Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz and Brian Hook, a special State Department adviser.

‘Pakistan welcomes positive developments in the Gulf’
Meanwhile, the Foreign Office (FO) on Tuesday issued a statement welcoming the decision by Saudi Arabia and Qatar to reopen land, air and sea borders between the two countries.
“We also appreciate other steps being taken by the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which will contribute to the resolution of outstanding issues between the countries of the organisation persisting for almost four years.
“Pakistan lauds the positive role played by the Emir of Kuwait towards the resolution of the differences between the countries of the council. His persistent and sincere efforts, and cooperation of the GCC countries, led to this important and amicable outcome,” a statement by the FO spokesman said.
“We hope that the GCC Summit, being held today in Riyadh, will further build on these encouraging developments and lead to enhanced confidence and cooperation among the countries of the organisation.”
Pakistan continues to accord high importance to its relationship with the council, as well as its bilateral relations with all GCC countries, the FO spokesman said.


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