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Qatar attends first emergency GCC meeting since blockade to combat 'coronavirus implications'

The Quartet imposed a land, air and sea blockade on Qatar in June 2017 [Getty]

Date of publication: 24 March, 2020

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Gulf ministers, including Qatar's financial minister, agreed to work together to combat the coronavirus and its implications on the region's economy.
Qatar took part in an emergency Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] meeting on Monday, the first such participation since Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain imposed a land, air and sea blockade on the country in 2017.

The virtual meeting brought together Gulf finance ministers to discuss the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and its impact on economy in the region.

In a statement, the GCC said the meeting was requested by its secretary-general "to discuss the financial and economic implications of the coronavirus epidemic".

The ministers "stressed the necessity to coordinate precautionary measures among the GCC states on all sectors to support economic recovery, and to unify measures taken to combat the epidemic", the statement said.

Read also: Saudi political analyst accuses Qatar of 'creating coronavirus' to ruin kingdom's economy

The meeting also highlighted the need to "facilitates the movement of goods between the GCC states, especially those related to consumer and basic materials, as well as products related to economic growth in general".

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt imposed a compete diplomatic, trade and transit blockade on Qatar in June 2017. 

The four nations accused Doha of backing "terrorist groups" in the region and seeking closer ties with Saudi arch rival Tehran - allegations Qatar vehemently denies.

Last month, Qatar criticised Saudi Arabia for refusing entry to its health minister, who had planned to attend a Gulf Cooperation Council meeting in Riyadh amid the growing coronavirus panic.

Qatar's foreign ministry took to Twitter to "express its concern" that Minister for Public Health Hanan Alkuwari could not attend the meeting about preventative measures for the coronavirus, organised by the GCC General Secretariat.

"Saudi Arabia has repeatedly claimed that the GCC, especially the technical committees, have not been affected by the crisis," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

"Yet we are surprised to see that Saudi is politicising a humanitarian sector, that requires close collaboration and coordination due to the urgency of the situation," it added.

The ministry called on Saudi Arabia to "assume its role" as a professional and impartial host of the GCC headquarters.

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