Breakthrough in GCC-Qatar row

Prince Saud Al-Faisal

Saudi Arabia and other GCC states have reportedly reached a major breakthrough toward ending their dispute with Qatar, also a member of the six-member group, having agreed on principles to overcome differences.

Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Sabah, who presided over a key GCC meeting in Jeddah on Saturday, gave the good news, but insisted that Doha implement the Riyadh Agreement to reach a final settlement.

The move comes following a major diplomatic blitz launched by Saudi Arabia under the leadership of Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal when he visited Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE prior to the GCC meeting in Jeddah.

“We have agreed on principles and criteria to overcome obstacles as soon as possible,” said Sheikh Sabah, the current president of the GCC Ministerial Council.

The Kuwaiti foreign minister did not give a time frame for a final agreement and said: “Do not be surprised if the ambassadors return at any time.”

Omani Foreign Minister Youssef bin Alawi Abdullah was optimistic following the Jeddah meeting as he told Agence France Press (AFP) that differences with Qatar had been resolved and that the ambassadors would return.

The minister, however, did not specify a date for their return.

Saudi analyst Badr Almotawa commended Saudi Arabia’s efforts to narrow differences among the GCC member states and strengthen their unity.

Speaking with Arab News, he referred to the visit of a GCC delegation led by Prince Saud to Doha, Manama and Abu Dhabi.

“It was a high-level move on the part of Saudi Arabia and the delegation included Intelligence Chief Prince Khaled bin Bandar and Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Naif,” Almotawa said, adding that Qatar has praised the Saudi initiative for reconciliation.

He also pointed out that Deputy Crown Prince Muqrin and National Guard Minister Prince Miteb bin Abdullah had also visited member states to resolve the issue amicably.

“The Qatari emir’s vision and pragmatic approach will contribute to strengthening GCC unity,” he added.

According to Kuwaiti diplomatic sources, one point of contention was Qatar’s refusal to endorse the report drafted by the committee supervising Doha’s compliance with the Riyadh Agreement.

They also said that Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE demanded that Qatar expand its efforts to comply with the agreement, while Qatari officials demanded more time to implement all of its articles.

 
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