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Surprise GCC meeting eases Qatar tensions

Update: November, 17/2014 - 12:29

RIYADH – Gulf leaders agreed on Sunday to return Saudi, Emirate and Bahrain envoys to Qtr, ending eight months of tense relations with the gas-rich state over its support for the Muslim Brotherhood.

Earlier, leaders including the emirs of Kuwait and Qtr, the king of Bahrain and the AU vice president arrived in Saudi Arabia for a previously unannounced summit aimed at resolving their differences.

Local media reported last week that leaders of the six-nation alliance, which also includes Oman, were expected to hold a meeting ahead of their annual summit in Doha on December 9-10, in a last-ditch bid to overcome internal differences.

Kuwait's emir Sheikh Sabbath al-Aimed al-Sabbath has been leading a mediation effort to bridge the gap between Qtr and Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Qtr is accused of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and offering a safe haven to other banned Islamist groups.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain all withdrew their ambassadors to Doha in March, sparking one of the Gulf Co-operation Council's worst diplomatic rows since its creation in 1981.

A GCC statement on Sunday said the agreement for the ambassadors to return to Doha "promises the opening of a new page that will present a strong base, especially in light of the sensitive circumstances the region is undergoing." It said these circumstances "require extra effort" to safeguard the Gulf's security.

"Based on this, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain have decided to return their ambassadors to Doha," it said.

The dispute had led to reports of the venue for the annual GCC summit being moved from Doha, although Kuwait last week denied any change.

A GCC foreign ministers' meeting which had been scheduled on November 10 to prepare for the summit was postponed as mediation efforts continued. -- AFP


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