Saturday November 26, 2022

Saudi top diplomat meets Qatar emir in Doha: media

March 09, 2021

DOHA: Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat has met Qatari ruler Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani in Doha on Monday, official media reported, as the two countries have started to heal the recent rift.

Prince Faisal bin Farhan’s visit came as a Qatari delegation has arrived in Cairo to attempt restoring diplomatic ties between Egypt and the Gulf monarchy fractured by years of discord, the Egyptian media reported. Saudi Arabia led a coalition of the countries, including Egypt to break off ties with Qatar in June 2017 over the claims that it was too close to Iran that backed the radical Islamist groups, which Qatar has always denied. But following Kuwaiti mediation, Qatar was invited to a regional meeting in Saudi Arabia in January at which Qatar was brought back into the regional fold and a process of reconciliation began.

Since then, Qatari officials have met in Kuwait with their opposite numbers from Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to discuss how to move on from the spat. “(The emir) received an oral message from Saudi Arabia’s King Salman during the reception of Prince Farhan,” the state-run Qatar News Agency reported. The Saudi foreign minister later met his Qatari counterpart and discussed bilateral relations, the agency further added. Egypt’s Al-Ahram daily reported Qatari delegation was led by senior foreign ministry official, Mohamed bin Saud al-Thani to “discuss cooperation between Egypt and Qatar”.

The visit is the latest sign of restoring ties between the two countries after their respective foreign ministers had met last week on the sidelines of an Arab League session in Cairo.

Although, the thaw has been widely welcomed, there is mistrust towards the UAE, the other major player in the boycott-bloc, which was the staunchest critic of Doha and its leadership throughout the crisis. Families were divided, students expelled, businesses broken and religious pilgrimages denied when Qatar’s rivals broke ties.

But since the reconciliation process has been started, there have been cautious steps towards normality, including the resumption of air travel between the former adversaries and the reopening of Qatar’s sole land border with Saudi Arabia.