Amir to attend GCC Summit in Saudi on Tuesday

Thursday, 07 Jan, 2021

The members of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, which includes Bahrain, the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, and Saudi Arabia, have signed a "solidarity and stability" agreement that effectively puts an end to the diplomatic spat between Doha and other members of the council.

The two men embraced and then spoke briefly before walking down the red carpet to a waiting vehicle.

Other Gulf leaders arrived earlier and Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry was in attendance.

His father, King Salman, who chaired the last annual gathering, was not seen during the opening session of the summit held in a mirrored building reflecting the desert landscape.

Saudi Arabia also said it was restoring full diplomatic relations with Qatar, although it was not clear how soon the step would be followed by the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, which had joined the kingdom in isolating the country over its regional policies. The break came at a time when regional tensions with Iran were on the rise.

Qatar will suspend lawsuits related to the barriers according to the agreement, officials told Reuters.

At the start of the crisis, the boycotting countries issued a list of 13 demands to Doha, including the closure of pan-Arab satellite television channel Al Jazeera, undertakings on "terror" financing, and the shuttering of a Turkish military base in Qatar.

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Kuwait and the United States have been working to end the dispute, which Washington has argued hinders efforts to contain Iran. The senior USA official told Reuters it was Washington's "expectation" other blockading nations would follow Saudi Arabia's lead, while Qatar would suspend lawsuits it has filed against the embargo. Biden has said he will take a harder line with the kingdom over issues including its human rights record and the Yemen war.

Mediation efforts led by Kuwait had achieved little until recently, but in the past few months there were growing signs of a face-saving resolution to a row that has harmed all those involved, BBC Arab Affairs Editor Sebastian Usher reports.

The text of the statements is expected to be released to the press soon.

The minister also said that the Kuwaiti emir spoke with his counterpart in Qatar and the Saudi crown prince.

As the leaders begin to gather the region received the encouraging news of Saudi Arabia and Qatar agreeing to reopen their borders.

"We've had a breakthrough in the Gulf Cooperation Council rift", the official said on condition of anonymity, confirming an announcement from Kuwait.

The Saudi-led quartet subsequently forced Qatari residents to leave their countries, closed their airspace to Qatari aircraft, and sealed their borders and ports, separating some mixed-nationality families.