Saudi king invites Qatar’s ruler to visit: Emir’s office

Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani receives a letter from King Salman ‘including an invitation to visit’, in the latest sign of improving relations between the former rivals.

Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani travelled to Saudi Arabia in January for the GCC summit, but did not meet the king at that time [File: Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via Reuters]

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has invited Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to visit the kingdom, the emir’s office has said, in the latest sign of improving relations between the neighbours and former rivals.

Riyadh and allies broke off ties with Qatar in June 2017 over claims it was too close to Iran and was stoking regional unrest, allegations Qatar has always denied.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic and trade ties and imposed a land, sea and air blockade on the Gulf state.

But in January, the blockading countries agreed to re-establish ties with Qatar following a flurry of diplomatic activity by former US President Donald Trump’s administration.

The emir received a letter from King Salman “including an invitation to visit” Saudi Arabia, his office said in a statement on Monday.

It did not say if Sheikh Tamim had accepted or when the visit would take place.

Sheikh Tamim last travelled to the kingdom in January for the summit, hosted by the king’s son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, that led to Doha being readmitted to the regional fold. He did not meet the king at that time.

The latest invitation was delivered by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, who travelled to Doha for meetings with his Qatari counterpart.

The two discussed “Gulf unity”, Qatar’s foreign ministry said.

Since the reconciliation, there have been cautious steps towards normality, including the resumption of air travel and the reopening of Qatar’s sole land border with Saudi Arabia.

Source: News Agencies

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