MANAMA: Top Gulf Arab officials held a virtual meeting on Sunday to strengthen “cooperation” ahead of next month’s summit, in the midst of attempts to end the Saudi-led alliance’s rift with Qatar.
A meeting hosted by Manama was attended by the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait, while Qatar was represented by its Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.
The presence of Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, the foreign minister of Qatar, would have been seen as another indication of an end to the diplomatic dispute.
In June 2017, Saudi Arabia led its allies, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, to break relations with Qatar, saying it was too close to Iran and supporting radical Islamist groups, which Doha strongly denies.
After severing relations, Qatar released a list of 13 requests, including the closure of its Al Jazeera broadcaster.
According to a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kuwait, the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) discussed on Sunday “suggestions to support and strengthen joint Gulf cooperation in various political, economic and social aspects.”
This comes after Manama called for a “end to regional disputes” on Wednesday, softening its rhetoric about the Gulf crisis.
Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdellatif al-Zayani remains confident on Sunday in “the ability of Saudi Arabia to find a solution to the Gulf dispute.”
Zayani added during the meeting that, according to Bahraini media, his country hoped for a return to normalcy in the region.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said earlier this month that a resolution was in reach, with the four governments behind the ‘on-board’ blockade and a final deal anticipated as soon as the GCC prepares to convene in the kingdom on 5 January.