Saudi king invites Qatar's emir to GCC summit in Riyadh

Sheikh Tamim invited to the annual meeting of the Gulf regional bloc to be held in the Saudi capital next week.

    Saudi king invites Qatar's emir to GCC summit in Riyadh
    Qatar's emir was also invited to attend last year's GCC summit in Riyadh, but stayed away [File: Fethi Belaid/AP]

    Saudi King Salman has invited Qatar's emir to an annual meeting next week of the Gulf regional bloc in Riyadh, the Qatari foreign ministry said, amid a two-year-old diplomatic crisis in the region.

    The 40th session of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit is scheduled to take place in the Saudi capital on December 10.

    "The Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, received a written message from ... King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ... to attend the GCC Supreme Council 40th session," Qatar's foreign ministry said on its website on Tuesday.

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    "The message was received by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, during his meeting today with the GCC Secretary-General Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani," the statement added.

    It did not specify if Doha had accepted the invitation, which comes amid signs of a thaw in tensions that have fractured the regional bloc.

    Since June 2017, GCC members Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, along with Egypt have imposed a land, air and sea blockade on Qatar over accusations of "supporting terrorism", a charge repeatedly and vehemently rejected by Doha.

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    However, the three Gulf blockading countries are currently participating in a regional football tournament in Qatar, having announced their participation at the last minute.

    Saudi Arabia, which has also sealed its land border with Qatar, will play the hosts in the semi-finals on Thursday.

    There were also reports of Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani making an unannounced visit to the Saudi capital last month.

    The GCC is a bloc comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

    Its 40th summit next week "will review regional and international political developments as well as the security situation in the region and its effects on the security and stability of the GCC countries," the body's secretary-general said in a statement on Sunday.

    A Qatari delegation headed by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Soltan bin Saad Al-Muraikhi represented the country at last year's GCC summit, which was also held in Riyadh.

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    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies