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Friday, October 22, 2021

Qatari ambassador meets top Saudi diplomat in Riyadh

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Qatar’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia met with the kingdom’s Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday.

Qatar’s ambassador to Riyadh Bandar bin Mohammed al-Attiyah met with the Saudi Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Political and Economic Affairs Eid bin Mohammed al-Thaqafi on Tuesday.

The diplomats discussed ways to enhance cooperation and bilateral ties between both countries, in the latest apparent move to improve Saudi-Qatar relations after a three-year diplomatic crisis.

Qatar slams cross-border Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich eastern region

Ties were left strained in 2017 when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed all diplomatic relations with Qatar and imposed an illegal air, land and sea blockade over allegations that it supports terrorism.

Qatar has consistently denied those claims.

However diplomatic ties have been warming since the signing of the Al-Ula declaration on 5 January this year, bringing to an end a three-year rift that disrupted the Gulf region’s unity.

Recent months, have shown great strides towards Saudi-Qatar cooperation.

In August, Qatari and Saudi delegations met to establish a coordination council to advance bilateral relations and partnerships of the two Gulf nations as part of both the Saudi’s Vision 2030 and the Qatar National Vision 2030.

In August, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud said relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar were “very good”.

In the same month, Doha appointed its newest envoy to Riyadh, marking the official restoration of diplomatic ties between the two states.

Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani appointed Al Attiyah as the country’s first ambassador to Saudi Arabia, the first such appointment since the 2017 GCC crisis erupted.

This came just two months after Doha received its first Saudi Ambassador Prince Mansour bin Khalid bin Farhan in June, which was seen as a major step to restoring ties between the two neighbouring countries.

More recently, Amir Tamim was pictured with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and UAE’s National Security Advisor Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed  after a “cordial” meeting in the Red Sea.

The image of the three Gulf officials, all pictured donning informal shorts and shirts, went viral online.

Strained relations

While relations between the neighbouring states have been improving, tensions between Qatar and Bahrain have remained.

In February, a Bahraini official made the first diplomatic visit to Qatar since the blockade to deliver an official invitation for talks to resolve pending issues between the two Gulf states.

While the visit signalled a step towards officially restoring ties, recent developments suggest friction remains, especially with regards to local media.

Over the past year, Bahrain has repeatedly breached Qatari territorial waters and airspace and has seized 130 properties reportedly belonging to relatives of Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

More recently, Bahrain accused the Qatar-based Al Jazeera Network of launching an “aggressive defamation campaign” following the broadcast on Sunday of an investigation into imprisoned minors in the Gulf kingdom.

Manama’s interior ministry [MOI] responded to the “Distance Zero” episode with a statement denying allegations of human rights abuses.


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