Saudi king in­vites Amir to GCC meet; Qatar in­vited too

Kuwait Times - - Front Page -

KUWAIT: Sec­re­tary Gen­eral of the Gulf Co­op­er­a­tion Coun­cil Ab­dul­latif bin Rashid Al-Zayani yes­ter­day de­liv­ered a writ­ten let­ter from Saudi King Sal­man bin Ab­du­laziz Al-Saud to HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber AlSabah, which in­cluded an in­vi­ta­tion to at­tend the 39th ses­sion of the GCC Supreme Coun­cil sched­uled on Dec 9. The Amir re­ceived Zayani, ac­com­pa­nied by Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Min­is­ter and Min­is­ter of For­eign Af­fairs Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Ha­mad Al-Sabah, at Bayan Palace. Zayani con­veyed to HH the Amir great thanks and ap­pre­ci­a­tion of his di­rec­tives for en­hanc­ing the Gulf joint ac­tion process.

Qatari Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Ha­mad Al-Thani also re­ceived a writ­ten in­vi­ta­tion from King Sal­man to at­tend the Gulf sum­mit in Riyadh, the Qatar News Agency said on Tues­day. Qatar is locked in a bit­ter dis­pute with Saudi Ara­bia that has frac­tured the six-nation GCC. Doha has not said what level of rep­re­sen­ta­tion it will send to the gath­er­ing of heads of state seen by an­a­lysts as un­likely to bring a diplo­matic break­through.

Saudi Ara­bia, the United Arab Emi­rates, Bahrain and non-GCC mem­ber Egypt have im­posed diplo­matic, trade and trans­port sanc­tions on Qatar since June 2017, ac­cus­ing it of sup­port­ing ter­ror­ism. Doha de­nies the charge. At last year’s GCC sum­mit, held in Kuwait, Saudi Ara­bia, the UAE and Bahrain sent min­is­ters or deputy prime min­is­ters, rather than heads of state.

The in­vite from the Saudi king comes a day after Qatar abruptly an­nounced it was quit­ting OPEC after 57 years to fo­cus on gas in an ap­par­ent swipe at the oil­pro­duc­ing bloc’s de facto leader Saudi Ara­bia. Doha’s exit from OPEC has deep­ened the sense among diplo­mats and an­a­lysts that any prospect for a near-term res­o­lu­tion to the Gulf row was un­likely to come at the sum­mit in Riyadh. “I’m sure this sum­mit will not bring any change,” said Mahjoob Zweiri, di­rec­tor of the Gulf Stud­ies Cen­ter at Qatar Univer­sity.

Saudi Ara­bia and the UAE have re­peat­edly said that the dis­pute was not a high pri­or­ity for them, and Qatar’s for­eign min­is­ter said last month he saw no thaw. At an Arab League sum­mit in Riyadh in April, Qatar did not send a se­nior of­fi­cial and its del­e­ga­tion was headed in­stead by its per­ma­nent rep­re­sen­ta­tive to the Arab League. The row has de­fied me­di­a­tion ef­forts by Kuwait and the United States which sees Gulf unity as es­sen­tial to ef­forts to con­tain Iran. The GCC was founded in 1980 as a bul­wark against big­ger neigh­bors Iran and Iraq, but the pro­tracted row has un­der­mined its role in re­gional af­fairs. — Agen­cies


KUWAIT: HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah meets Sec­re­tary Gen­eral of the Gulf Co­op­er­a­tion Coun­cil Ab­dul­latif bin Rashid AlZayani at Bayan Palace yes­ter­day.

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