Qatar emir to skip Gulf summit in Riyadh: state media

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Aden - Yasmin Abdel Azim - Flags of GCC member states Image Credit: File

: The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) leaders will hold their 40th Summit today, in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

Qatar's emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, will not attend the Gulf summit in Riyadh, state media reported Tuesday, dampening hopes of a reconciliation between Doha and a Saudi-led bloc.

The emir named Prime Minister Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani to lead the Qatari delegation to Tuesday's summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the official QNA said.

Saudi King Salman has invited Qatar’s emir to the summit last week. Some Saudi observers have downplayed the king's invitation to the emir, saying he was only following protocol and that he had invited the Qatari leader to last year's summit as well.

The GCC ministerial council held a preparatory meeting for the 40th GCC Summit on December 9 in Riyadh.

The GCC leaders will discuss some key topics to enhance cooperation and integration amongst member states in political, defense, security, social and economic fields, according to a statement carried by Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

Gulf leaders will also focus on the regional and international political developments, and the security situation in the region as well as their impact on the GCC states’ security and stability.

Gulf Crisis

The Qatari news agency did not explain the cause of Tamim's no-show at the Riyadh meeting.

Regional analyst and King's College London assistant professor Andreas Krieg said he believed Riyadh had pushed for the gathering to be shifted from the UAE to Saudi Arabia to increase the likelihood of the emir attending.

Even if the emir does not attend, Qatar is sending high-level representation and negotiations to end the impasse are expected to continue.

"Ending the Gulf rift is an incremental process of engagement and dialogue rather than something resolvable at a single summit meeting alone," said Kristian Ulrichsen, a fellow at Rice University's Baker Institute in the United States.

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

The four countries have repeatedly demanded Doha to comply with a set of conditions to end the standoff. The demands include Qatar’s severance of links with militant and terror groups, scaling down ties with Iran and shutting down Al Jazeera TV, seen as a mouthpiece of the banned Muslim Brotherhood.

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

Last week, Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammad Bin Abdul Rahman confirmed reports about talks between his country and Saudi Arabia to end the Gulf feud.

In the run-up to the Riyadh summit, Kuwait has intensified its efforts to defuse the Gulf crisis and hinted that its bid is bearing fruit.

- With inputs from Agencies

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