Absence of Qatar emir overshadows Gulf Arab summit

Qatari emir not to join Gulf summit in Saudi Arabia

Qatari emir not to join Gulf summit in Saudi Arabia

The Qatari emir did attend last year's GCC meeting in Kuwait as well, although Al-Thani and Kuwait's emir, Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, were the only heads of state present at the event, with the other four GCC member countries - Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - sending low-level representatives.

Instead Qatar will be represented by the minister of state for foreign affairs, Sultan al-Muraikhi, it said.

The regional powerhouse had invited Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani to attend the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council talks, but the foreign ministry in Doha said he will not go.

The invitation, which was extended on December 4, was seen as a way for Saudi Arabia to start to overcome worldwide condemnation for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and its conduct in the Yemen war, and diffuse tensions with its neighbor.

Saudi Arabia, and some of its allies cut diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar in June 20-17 over allegations of supporting terrorism.

Qatar said its emir will skip a summit Sunday of Arab Gulf leaders in Saudi Arabia, which has spearheaded a boycott of the small but energy-flush neighbour and sparked a major regional diplomatic row.

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Doha last week abruptly announced it was exiting the oil exporters' group OPEC after 57 years to focus on gas in an apparent swipe at the bloc's de facto leader Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh is hosting the annual gathering as crises rumble on over the 18-month-old dispute with Doha, the war in Yemen and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul.

The Riyadh Declaration, adopted by the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) at the end of the 39th session of their Supreme Council, stressed the importance of the GCC coordination in order to meet the challenges of the region, while ensuring the strength of the GCC and unity among its members.

A USA official on Sunday called on Gulf states to mend fences to confront Iran and pave the way for a proposed new Middle East security alliance that would include the Gulf bloc, Egypt and Jordan.

"The aim is to achieve security arrangements in the Middle East that can protect the region from external aggression. and strengthen relations between the United States and the countries of the region", Jubeir said. "It is a work in progress that both sides want to succeed", he said.

Kuwait's ties with Riyadh are also strained over control of shared oilfields in the so-called Neutral Zone, further weakening unity of the GCC which was set up in 1980 as a bulwark against larger neighbors Iran and Iraq.

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