- The two sides say they intend to end their differences through direct diplomatic talks.
- The Qatari Minister of State for Foreign Affairs attended the meeting.
- “The commitment by Gulf leaders to hold the summit on an annual basis, and especially in these exceptional times, is a testament to the strength of the GCC."
Diplomatic officials from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states set the stage for reconciliation talks with Qatar. Saudi Arabia’s allies in the Persian Gulf held a virtual meeting Sunday (December 27th) to pave the way for a solution to the crisis in relations with Qatar.
The two sides say they intend to end their differences through direct diplomatic talks.
The foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, and Kuwait attended a virtual meeting centered in Manama, the capital of Bahrain.
The Qatari Minister of State for Foreign Affairs attended the meeting.
“The commitment by Gulf leaders to hold the summit on an annual basis, and especially in these exceptional times, is a testament to the strength of the GCC, to their belief in their duty to the people of the Gulf, and their devotion to increasing cooperation and integration among member countries,” Dr. Al-Hajraf said in the statement.
“The GCC remains focused on meeting the ambitions of the Gulf people, increasing integration, interconnectedness, and trade among member states and the international community. I am grateful to their Majesties and Highnesses, the leaders of the GCC states, for their tireless efforts to further strengthen Gulf cooperation.”
The participation of Qatari Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al-Thani in the meeting showed the determination of regional governments to resolve diplomatic disputes. The leaders of the Persian Gulf countries are set to resolve their multi-year differences at a meeting on January 5.
An Obstacle to “Stability in the Region”
The UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar in June 2017, thanks to Saudi Arabia. They accused Qatar of continuing “too friendly” relations with the Islamic Republic, as well as supporting “terrorist” groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood. Qatar has denied both allegations.
The King of Saudi Arabia called for the unification of the Arabs to confront Iran. They submitted a list of 13 demands to Qatar, including the closure of the Al-Jazeera news channel, and demanded that they be implemented.
Qatar refused to comply. Qatar criticized neighboring countries for wanting to violate its national sovereignty, stressing that relations should be based on mutual respect.
The differences between the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf and Qatar have provoked criticism from some countries in the region, as well as the United States. The United States has said the dispute is fueling instability in the region and splitting into a “single policy to combat Iranian influence.”
Rising hopes for resolving the crisis between Qatar and its neighbors. According to a statement issued by the Kuwaiti Foreign Minister, the six GCC countries on Sunday “made proposals to strengthen relations between the GCC member states in various political, economic and social fields.”
Last Wednesday (December 23rd), the Bahraini government called for an end to regional conflicts in a statement.
Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdul Latif al-Zayani expressed hope at Sunday’s meeting that “Saudi Arabia will be able to find a solution to the crisis in the region.” He told Bahraini media that his country hopes the region will return to “normalcy”.
In recent weeks, the Gulf states have softened their former hostile tone in the conflict with Qatar. The countries that had advanced to the stage of Qatar’s economic blockade now plan to hold talks with it on January 5.