Saudi King Invites Qatar Emir to Visit Coop Council Amid Diplomatic Row

Blanche Robertson
December 8, 2018

Emir Sheikh Tamim "received a written message from King of Saudi Arabia, inviting HH the Amir to attend the 39th Summit of the Supreme Council of the GCC that will be hosted by the Kingdom on December 9", Qatar News Agency (QNA) tweeted on December 4.

Saudi Arabia's king invited Qatar's ruler to attend a regional summit in Riyadh this month in a sign of a potential thaw between the nations as the Saudis struggle to overcome worldwide condemnation for the killing of columnist Jamal Khashoggi and its conduct in the Yemen war.

A handout picture provided by the Saudi Royal Palace on December 5, 2016 shows Saudi King Salman (L) waiving next to the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani during a ceremony in Doha.

With Riyadh hosting the summit, it is possible that King Salman is attempting to demonstrate some stability after the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and last year's unsuccessful GCC summit.

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The Saudi-led bloc accused Qatar of supporting terrorism and fostering close ties with Iran - charges that Doha has strongly denied. And Qatar could say the invite to the Gulf Cooperation Council summit was only natural because the emirate is a member of the group.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE have repeatedly said that the dispute with Qatar is not a high priority for them, and Qatar's foreign minister said last month that he saw no thaw in the frosty relations. Leaders of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) refused to visit the summit due to their tense relations with Qatar.

The row has persisted despite mediation efforts by Kuwait and the United States, which sees Gulf unity as essential to its efforts to counter Iran.

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