Egypt and Qatar have ‘agreed to resume diplomatic relations’

Egypt’s foreign ministry said official notes had been exchanged with Qatar as both countries agreed to resume ties.

A mask-clad traveller prepares to board the first Qatar Airways flight bound for Cairo after the resumption of flights [File: Karim Jaafar/AFP]

Egypt has agreed to resume diplomatic relations with Qatar, the Egyptian foreign ministry said.

“The Arab Republic of Egypt and the state of Qatar has exchanged two official notes today, January 20, according to which the two countries agreed to resume diplomatic relations,” the statement on Wednesday said.

On Monday, the first direct flight between Qatar and  Egypt and the UAE took to the skies following the end of a three-and-a-half year regional crisis earlier this month.

Egypt was part of an Arab quartet that had severed diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar in June 2017. The four countries – including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain – accused Qatar of supporting terrorism and being too close to Iran, and imposed a land, air and naval blockade.

Qatar has denied the accusations throughout.

All four countries have now announced the reopening of their airspace to Qatar.

Two Egyptian intelligence sources told Reuters news agency on Wednesday that a Qatari foreign ministry official pledged in a meeting with Egyptian and Emirati security officials on Saturday that Qatar would not interfere in Egypt’s internal affairs.

He also pledged a change of orientation for Qatar’s Al Jazeera Media Network, which is state-funded, and state-owned media outlets towards Cairo, the sources said.

A Qatari official on Thursday told Reuters that no such meeting had taken place and that diplomatic relations were restored “via written correspondence referencing the Al Ula Agreement” reached at the summit in Saudi Arabia.

Qatar’s foreign minister had said in televised remarks after the Arab deal was announced that Al Jazeera is an independent media institution.

The Egyptian intelligence sources also said the officials agreed on economic cooperation and a series of meetings on outstanding issues such as Libya and the Muslim Brotherhood.

The officials agreed to restore diplomatic relations between Egypt and Qatar “under probation,” as one source put it.

As many as 300,000 Egyptians call Qatar home, according to official statistics, and many were unable to travel home during the crisis.

Separately, Qatari foreign minister Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said that there was progress in Doha’s dialogue with the UAE.

“There is some communication, and we look forward to continue the discussion and we are ready to address any issues that they have with Qatar or Qatar have with UAE,” the minister said.

“We have resumed the flights already,” Sheikh Mohamed added.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies