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Gulf countries to meet in January, with Qatar rift in the spotlight

Kuwait announced a GCC meeting [Getty]

Date of publication: 17 December, 2020

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The GCC will meet at the beginning of January in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait has announced.

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Kuwait, GCC, Gulf
Kuwait on Thursday announced the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will meet January 5 in Saudi Arabia, which has expressed its willingness to resolve a years-long regional rift with Qatar. 

Regional heavyweight Riyadh is trying to put an end to a three-year Gulf dispute that kicked off when a Saudi-led alliance imposed an economic embargo on Qatar.

In a meeting with GCC ambassadors, Kuwait's Foreign Minister Ahmed Nasser al-Mohammed Al-Sabah "expressed his willingness that the Gulf summit be held in Saudi Arabia on January 5, 2021," said a statement from the ministry. 

"This shows the willingness to hold regular sessions to achieve common goals," said the minister, whose country has acted as mediator in the crisis, insisting on "the unity of the Gulf countries".

The GCC is comprised of six member states -- the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar.

Saudi Arabia led its allies the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt to cut ties with Qatar in June 2017, saying it was too close to Iran and funding radical Islamist movements -- charges Doha staunchly denies.

The Saudi-led quartet subsequently forced out Qataris residing in their countries, closed their airspace to Qatari aircraft and sealed their borders and ports, separating some mixed-nationality families.

After severing ties, the countries issued a list of 13 demands for Qatar.

Earlier in December, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said a resolution of the Gulf diplomatic crisis was in sight, with all nations involved "on board" and final agreement expected soon.

Egypt and the UAE have since given their official support to the negotiations even as, according to diplomatic sources, Abu Dhabi is reluctant to yield to Doha, of which it has been the most vocal critic since the crisis began.

According to various sources close to the talks, the Gulf countries may have reached a "limited scope" agreement providing for an "interim solution" to reduce tensions within the GCC.

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