The shutting down of Al Jazeera Media Network, as demanded by the four blockading nations in 2017, was not discussed during talks to resolve the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) crisis that pitted Qatar against its Gulf Arab neighbours, Qatar’s foreign minister said.
Following the cutting off of ties in 2017, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain issued a 13-point list of demands to end the blockade, including the closure of Qatar’s Al Jazeera Media Network.
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On Tuesday, Gulf leaders signed a “solidarity and stability” agreement towards ending the diplomatic rift with Qatar at a summit in Saudi Arabia.
Following that, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister announced full relations would resume between Qatar and the four nations.
On Wednesday, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani told Al Jazeera that the issue of shutting down the network was not raised during the talks.
“The issue of Al Jazeera was not raised. It is an institution that we are proud of, its media professionals and its presence in Qatar,” he said.
“We guarantee freedom of expression, and the issue of Al Jazeera must be dealt with positively and constructively.”
Sheikh Mohammed added that Doha “found a will from the other parties to resolve the crisis”.
His UAE counterpart Anwar Gargash said the demands had been a “maximalist negotiating point” designed to apply pressure on Doha.
“This is something that we have always said – that the 13 demands, at the time, were considered, what I would call, a maximalist negotiating position,” Gargash told CNN after the signing of the declaration in Saudi Arabia.
“I think what we end up with today is general outlines that basically govern relations between states that are party to the same organisation.
“These are what I would call general outlines of how this relationship will move on and I think we’re very satisfied with this and we want to build on it,” he added.
On Tuesday, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani separately at the GCC summit and reviewed bilateral ties between the two “brotherly” countries, and ways of enforcing joint Gulf action, the Saudi state news agency reported.
The pair publicly embraced at the airport when Qatar’s emir arrived for the summit.
On the eve of the GCC summit, Kuwait announced that Saudi Arabia had agreed to open land and sea borders with Qatar.
On Thursday, Qatar Airways said it began rerouting some flights through Saudi airspace.
This evening #QatarAirways began to reroute some flights through Saudi airspace with the first scheduled flight expected to be QR 1365, Doha to Johannesburg at 20.45 this evening, 7 January. pic.twitter.com/wmU7Qq6Mwd
— Qatar Airways (@qatarairways) January 7, 2021