Saudi says full ties restored between Qatar and 4 nations

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud holds a press conference at the end of the summit.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud holds a press conference at the end of the summit.PHOTO: AFP

Al-Ula, Saudi Arabia (AFP) - Full ties have been restored between Qatar and the four nations that severed relations with Doha in a rift that began over three years ago, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said on Tuesday (Jan 5).

Saudi Arabia led a coalition of countries in the Gulf and beyond that cut ties and transport links with Qatar in June 2017, charging that it was too close to Iran and backed radical Islamist groups - allegations Doha has always denied.

"What happened today is... the turning of the page on all points of difference and a full return of diplomatic relations," Prince Faisal bin Farhan told a press conference at the conclusion of a landmark regional summit in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi state media said that de facto leader Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met separately with Qatar's ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, after the pair publicly embraced at the airport.

"During the meeting, they reviewed bilateral relations between the two brotherly countries and ways of consolidating the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) joint action," the official Saudi Press Agency said.

Leaders of the six-member GCC signed two documents on Tuesday, the Al-Ula Declaration, named after the Saudi city where this year's regional summit was held, and a final communique.

Three GCC members - Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain - took part in the 3½ year blockade, alongside Egypt.

Qatar is also a GCC member state, along with Kuwait and Oman, which remained neutral in the spat.

The documents are general in terms, but Prince Mohammed said earlier that the Gulf states had inked an agreement that affirms "our Gulf, Arab and Islamic solidarity and stability".

He called for unity to confront challenges facing the region, singling out "the threats posed by the Iranian regime's nuclear and ballistic missile programme and its plans for sabotage and destruction".