Qatar representative expected to attend GCC summit in Riyadh despite blockade

Qatar representative expected to attend GCC summit in Riyadh despite blockade
Kuwaiti authorities confirmed Qatar will attend the upcoming GCC summit in Riyadh next month, a year-and-a-half into a Saudi-led blockade of the neighbouring Gulf state.
2 min read
19 November, 2018
All six GCC states will be in attendance [Getty]
Qatar is expected to attend the upcoming Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in the Saudi capital, according to Kuwaiti officials.

Qatar, which has faced more than a year and a half of a blockade by Saudi Arabia and its allies - including the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt - will join its GCC counterparts at this year's summit in Riyadh, Kuwaiti Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled al-Jarallah said on Monday.

"I am optimistic that the level of representation is expected to be high and reflects the keenness of GCC leaders to maintain this pioneering experience," the minister said in press statements carried by Kuwaiti news agency KUNA.

The summit will be held in December, a year-and-a-half after the quartet severed diplomatic and trade relations with Qatar, closing land, air and sea links on 5 June 2017.

It is not clear if a Qatari minister or a more minor diplomatic representative will attend the session.

The Saudi-led bloc accused Doha of supporting terrorism and their foe Iran, which Doha strongly denies saying the boycott aims to impinge on its sovereignty.

Kuwait's Sheikh Sabah has played a pivotal role in attempting to mediate a resolution to the blockade of Qatar, but efforts have so far failed because of the Saudi-led bloc's intransigence.

Earlier this month, Qatar's emir said the bitter regional dispute with its neighbours would pass, noting it made the country stronger.

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani made the comments in a speech at Qatar's shoura council, The New Arab's Arabic-language service reported.

"Qatar's economy grown stronger as a result of the crisis and made it immune to external shocks," Sheikh Tamim said.

"We have become more self-reliant and our relations with our allies have become more entrenched," he said.

"History teaches us that crises pass… it is very regrettable that the continuation of the Gulf crisis exposed the failure of the Gulf Cooperation Council," he added.

The emir's comments come after both the Saudi crown prince and Egyptian president offered rare praise of Qatar in recent speeches.

Egypt President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi stressed that stability in Doha was vital to regional security and last month Mohammed bin Salman praised the Qatari economy.

The praises have come as Riyadh has been facing growing pressure and criticism over the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

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