WASHINGTON: A settlement has been found in Qatar’s three-year-old conflict with Saudi Arabia and three other Arab countries and today (Tuesday), a Trump administration official said, an agreement aimed at settling their split is to be signed in Saudi Arabia.
The development is the latest in a string of Middle East agreements pursued by Washington — the others including Israel and Arab states — aimed at creating a united front against Iran.
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Saudi Arabia will reopen its airspace and land and sea boundaries to Qatar as part of the agreement, Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Ahmad Nasser al Sabah said on Kuwait TV in the run-up to Tuesday’s Gulf Arab Summit in Saudi Arabia.
“The Saudi state agency SPA cited the de facto Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia as saying that the annual meeting of Gulf leaders would unite Gulf ranks “in the face of the region’s challenges.
Agreement to be signed at summit today
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani, Qatar’s president, will attend, the royal court said. The U.S. official said the contract will be signed by the Saudi crown prince and the Qatari emir.
Since mid-2017, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have placed a diplomatic, trade and transport embargo on Qatar, accusing it of terrorist funding. Qatar denies this and argues that the blockade is aimed at weakening its sovereignty.
If Saudi Arabia made clear it wanted to lift the blockade, the other three countries did not, but the Trump official said “it’s our expectation” they would all cooperate in lifting the blockade. Qatar will suspend litigation related to the blockade under the emerging deal,
US partners are all of the countries participating in the agreements. Qatar hosts the largest US military base in the country, Bahrain is home to the Fifth Fleet of the US Navy, and Saudi Arabia and the UAE host US forces.
White House senior advisor Jared Kushner, appointed by President Donald Trump to work on the conflict, helped broker the resolution and remained on the telephone until the wee hours of Monday morning, the official added.
When Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister said a conflict settlement appeared within reach last month, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a Twitter post that he hoped that Gulf peace would lead to the security and political and economic growth of all the peoples of our country.
The US official said Kushner, along with Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz and Brian Hook, a special advisor to the State Department, will travel to the Saudi Arabian city of Al Ula to attend the ceremony.
If the agreement holds, the Gulf conflict will be added to the Kushner team’s string of diplomatic successes, a record that includes standardisation agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco last year.