Gulf Arab ministers to discuss steps to resolve diplomatic dispute
Dubai, Feb. 6 / PRNewswire / - Arab foreign ministers of the Gulf will hold a virtual meeting in Bahrain on Sunday ahead of an annual summit to discuss steps to end a diplomatic battle that has undermined regional stability and thwarted Washington’s efforts to bring a united front to Iran .
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed diplomatic ties with Qatar in 2017, accusing it of supporting "terrorist" groups. Doha denies the indictment, accusing its neighbors of attempting to restrict their sovereignty.
However, Riyadh has pushed for a settlement to ease criticism from US President-elect Joe Biden, who has pledged to take a stronger stance on the kingdom than his predecessor.
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Bahrain said in a statement that the virtual meeting of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) foreign ministers will prepare the ground for the 41st session of the GCC summit on January 5th.
"Talks have been going on about a possible deal but it has not yet been finalized," a golf official told Reuters.
Sources said they expected the summit to reach an agreement and could lead to a set of principles for negotiation or a more concrete move that includes reopening the airspace into Qatar.
But Qatar has told Kuwait and the United States, the two mediators, that any solution should be based on mutual respect, including foreign policy.
Doha had made 13 demands, ranging from the shutdown of Al Jazeera television and the closure of a Turkish base to the disconnection with the Muslim Brotherhood and the downgrading of relations with Iran.
Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said this month that a solution to the dispute with Qatar is "within reach" after Kuwait announced progress in ending the dispute.
(Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Jason Neely)
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