Khalid Al Jarallah, Kuwait’s Deputy Foreign Minister Image Credit: KUNA

Kuwait City: A recent decision by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain to play in a key football tournament in Qatar signals a “breakthrough” in resolving the Gulf crisis that will be followed by new steps, a senior Kuwait official has said.

In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt broke off diplomatic and transportation links with Qatar over its support for extremist groups.

Kuwait has since attempted to defuse the row that has taken its toll on the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

“The agreement of the Gulf teams to take part in the 24th Gulf Cup in Qatar provides a clear indication that a breakthrough has taken place,” Kuwait’s Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Al Jarallah said, according to Kuwaiti newspaper Al Anba.

The tournament, the Gulf’s most prestigious football event, is due to kick off on Tuesday.

In late 2017, the three countries stayed away from the tournament that was due to be held in Qatar, but they reversed their non-participation after the championship was switched to Kuwait.

“It [participation] confirms we are on the right track. The participation will be followed by other steps,” Al Jarallah added without elaborating.

“We have a conviction that the atmosphere is positive and comfortable. There will be contacts at all levels to formulate a quick end to this row that has hit the member countries of the GCC,” he added.

The GCC comprises Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar.

An annual GCC summit is due to be held next month, the Kuwait official said without giving a specific date or venue.

The anti-Qatar quartet has repeatedly demanded Doha to comply with a set of conditions to mend ties. The demands include Qatar’s severance of links with militant and terror groups and scale down links with Iran, accused of meddling in Arab affairs.

Qatar has refused the conditions, saying they violate its sovereignty.