Exclusive: Riyadh agrees to attend Gulf summit in Kuwait

Exclusive: Kuwait to host GCC summit, Saudi Arabia signals intent to attend
2 min read
29 November, 2017
The summit comes at a delicate time after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt all cut ties with Qatar in June.
The summit comes at a delicate time after Riyadh and allies cut ties with Qatar[Getty]
Saudi Arabia has agreed to attend a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit that "will include Qatar" and be hosted by Kuwait in December, sources told The New Arab.

The summit comes at a delicate time after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt all cut ties with Qatar in June, accusing Doha of backing extremism and fostering ties with Iran – charges that Qatar vehemently denies.

Saudi Arabia then issued Qatar with a list of demands, including shutting down media outlets Al Jazeera and London-based The New Arab, curbing relations with Iran and closing a Turkish military base in the emirate.

In response, Qatar's former deputy prime minister said the blockade on Doha had only strengthened the kingdom's resolve.

Since then, Kuwait has been attempting to mediate efforts to end the crisis.

"We will continue until we reach a happy end to this unfortunate dispute," said Kuwaiti Deputy Foreign Minister Khalid al-Jarallah.

The minister had announced in October that Kuwait was ready to host the next Gulf summit, but doubts remained over whether it would go ahead or not due to the position of the blockading countries. 

The countries ended up agreeing after Kuwait and the US stressed the importance of the summit taking place, the source told The New Arab.

However, the source added that Saudi Arabia had asked Kuwait to not invite Qatar to the summit. The request was rejected by the country's ruler Sheikh Sabah al-Sabah who emphasised Kuwait’s reconciliatory role in the current Gulf crisis.

Last month, Sabah warned members of the GCC that the union could fall apart due to an ongoing diplomatic crisis.

The Kuwaiti ruler said that the current blockade on Qatar by the Saudi-led alliance risked escalating and could result in the end of the GCC's 36-year-old alliance.

Since June, Qatar has been isolated by neighbouring countries, who have imposed a land, air and sea blockade on the tiny Gulf emirate.

As part of that dispute, Qatar Airways has been stopped from flying to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, previously popular destinations for the carrier.

Qatar has argued that the blockade is unlawful and inhumane, and has filed complaints with international human rights organisations and the WTO against the Saudi-led camp.