Officials in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Turkey among first to welcome the move to reopen borders with Qatar.
Gulf leaders have signed a “solidarity and stability” agreement towards ending the diplomatic rift with Qatar at a summit in Saudi Arabia, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has said.
The announcement came on Tuesday at the Gulf Arab leaders meeting in Saudi Arabia, with the annual summit taking place amid a breakthrough in the dispute between a Saudi-led bloc and Qatar that started in June 2017.
“These efforts helped us reach the agreement of the Al-Ula statement that will be signed at this summit, where we affirm our Gulf, Arab and Islamic solidarity and stability,” the crown prince told the meeting, thanking the United States and Kuwait for their mediation.
“There is a desperate need today to unite our efforts to promote our region and to confront challenges that surround us, especially the threats posed by the Iranian regime’s nuclear and ballistic missile programme and its plans for sabotage and destruction.”
Leaders of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council signed the Al-Ula declaration, named after the Saudi city where the summit is being held, and a final communique.
Their contents were not immediately released but hopes for a deal to end the impasse were raised overnight when Saudi Arabia announced it would open its borders to Qatar despite lingering issues between the neighbours.
Prime Minister and Vice President of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum called the summit “positive”.
“A positive summit unifying ranks and establishing fraternity… changes and challenges surrounding us require genuine Gulf strength, cohesion and cooperation as well as Arab depth and stability,” he posted on Twitter.
شاركت اليوم في قمة العلا لقادة دول مجلس التعاون..قمة إيجابية.. موحدة للصف..مرسخة للإخوة برعاية أخي خادم الحرمين الشريفين وولي عهده الأمير محمد بن سلمان ..المتغيرات والتحديات المحيطة بنا تتطلب قوة وتماسك وتعاون خليجي حقيقي وعمق عربي مستقر . pic.twitter.com/axndY13uNu
— HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) January 5, 2021
Al Jazeera’s Jamal Elshayyal, reporting from Qatar’s capital Doha, said it was the “beginning of a process to heal the damage caused over the past three-and-a-half years”.
“For now, all the leaders will focus on the declaration that was signed in Al-Ula which reaffirms what they say is their commitment to the unity of the GCC,” he added.
In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain cut diplomatic and trade ties with, and imposed a land, sea and air blockade on Qatar.
The quartet accused Doha of being too close to Iran and supporting “terrorist” groups.
Qatar vehemently denied the allegations and accused its neighbours of attacking its sovereignty.