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Kuwait, Oman working to narrow GCC divide

Foreign ministers to review committee report on August 30

Gulf News

Dubai: Kuwat and Oman are working on narrowing differences between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain ahead of an August 30 deadline, a Gulf diplomat has told the London-based Al Sharq Al Awsat.

A Qatari proposal to help end the worst diplomatic row to hit the GCC is under review and it hopes to have Gulf ambassadors who have been pulled out of Doha reinstated.

The foreign ministers of the GCC, the alliance between Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, held a meeting in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah on Saturday and discussed a report prepared by a special committee set up to monitor the implementation of an accord signed in Riyadh in April.

The unprecedented crisis ruptured the GCC last year amid accusations that Doha was pursuing a policy that differed from the stances of the other member countries and harmed Gulf interests.

In November, an accord was reached to have Qatar change its policies and bring them more in line with those of its fellow members, regarding domestic issues and regional developments that affected GCC interests.

However, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE on March 5 said that Qatar did not comply with the accord and pulled their ambassadors from Doha, citing grievances that included interference in their domestic affairs and offering support, including from the media, to groups that were intent on undermining stability and security in the Gulf.

Qatar rejected the charges and said that it was fully committed to the principles and objectives of the GCC.

A new accord, achieved mainly thanks to the mediation of the Kuwaiti Emir Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, was reached in Riyadh on April 17.

The GCC countries pledged to honour the Riyadh Agreement and a committee made up of representatives from the six member countries was set up to follow up on its implementation.

The work of the committee remained mostly secret and no information about it has been leaked. However, statements by Gulf officials and media reports offered contrasting assessments about the first reports.

While some talked about an imminent breakthrough in the diplomatic crisis, others said that the divergences were too wide to overcome easily.

Saudi Arabia insisted that the ambassadors would not be reinstated until Qatar fully complied with the Riyadh Agreement.

Bahrain on two occasions issued statements calling for an end to the naturalisation of some of its well-established Arab families by Qatar authorities.

Last week, the GCC foreign ministers meeting in Jeddah said that they looked forward to the full implementation of the agreement within one week.

It was the first time since April that a deadline was announced publicly for reaching an accord.

The diplomatically worded statement by the GCC Secretary-General Abdul Lateef Al Zayani at the end of the meeting attended by all GCC foreign ministers was interpreted as an ultimatum to Qatar.

By the end of the week, Qatar reportedly refused to sign the final report prepared by the technical committee, arguing that it had implemented all that was required.

However, a senior Gulf official said that Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE insisted on evidences and actions that could support the Qatari claims.

The report has been presented to all member countries and the foreign ministers are expected to review it by the end of this month.