Frozen relations thawing: Saudi invites Qatar to Gulf meeting

Saudi sends written invitation to Qatar to attend Gulf regional meeting in Riyadh in further sign of normalising relations.


DOHA - After over two years of boycott, animosity between Saudi Arabia and Qatar appears to be waning as has King Salman extended an invitation to the Qatari emir to attend a Gulf regional bloc meeting in Riyadh next week.

It is still unclear whether Qatar has accepted the request.

This comes after reports that Qatar's Foreign Minister made an unannounced visit to the Saudi capital last month, according to the Reuters News Agency.

During his visit, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani supposedly met senior Saudi officials and made an offer to end the rift between Qatar and its blockading neighbours.

It is unknown whether Crown Prince bin Salman was present for the meeting.

This would make it the highest-level visit by a Qatari official to the kingdom since an Arab summit in Mecca last May.

Saudi Arabia and allies Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates closed their airspace to Qatar Airways and banned travel to the country over charges that Doha backs radical Islamists and seeks closer ties with Iran.

Qatar vehemently denies the charges.

The three Gulf boycott countries are currently participating in a regional football tournament in Qatar having announced their participation at the last minute.

Saudi Arabia and hosts Qatar are facing off in the semi-finals on Thursday.

"The emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, received a written message from... Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud to attend the (GCC) summit," the Qatar News Agency reported.

The emir has been represented by senior officials at GCC summits since the blockade was imposed despite having received invitations.