Saudi king invites Qatari emir to attend GCC summit in Riyadh

Source: India Abroad News Service

Doha, Dec 4 (IANS) The Qatari emir received an invitation from the Saudi king to attend the 40th Gulf Cooperation Council summit, reported the Qatar News Agency (QNA).

Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani received a written invitation from King Salman bin Abdelaziz Al Saud on Tuesday to attend the 40th session of the GCC Supreme Council to be held in Saudi capital Riyadh on December 10, the QNA said.

The invitation was first received by Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Qatari minister of foreign affairs, during his meeting on Tuesday with Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, secretary general of the GCC, reported Xinhua news agency.

Earlier this month, Zayani said the summit would see the GCC leaders discussing a host of important topics to enhance inter-GCC cooperation and integration in political, defense, security and socio-economic fields.

It has been the third time the Saudi king invited the Qatari emir for a GCC summit since a crisis erupted in June 2017 between Qatar and a coalition led by Saudi Arabia, which severed diplomatic ties with Doha and imposed a total blockade on the gas-rich Gulf nation.

The Qatari ruler was absent from the two previous Gulf summits but sent ministers to attend the meetings.

The invitation coincided with some indications for an imminent thaw between the two sides. Kuwaiti Deputy Foreign Minister Khalid Al Jarallah said early the month that positive signs appeared that the crisis would be resolved.

Jarallah hoped the representation at the Riyadh summit would reach its highest level and act as a “track for the return of Gulf summits like they used to be.”

The participation of the soccer teams from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain in the Arabian Gulf Cup held in Qatar indicated progress towards defusing the Gulf crisis, Jarallah noted.

On June 5, 2017, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic, trade and travel ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting “terrorism.” Qatar has repeatedly denied the allegations as “baseless.”

The Saudi-led coalition later issued a 13-point list of demands, including the shutdown of Al Jazeera news channel, limiting ties with Iran and expelling Turkish troops stationed in the country, as a prerequisite for lifting the blockade.

Qatar rejected the demands, denouncing them as an attempt to infringe on the country’s sovereignty.

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