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King Salman invites Gulf leaders for Riyadh summit

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has formally invited leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) for the 41st group summit being held in Riyadh on January 5 next year.

The invitation was sent through GCC Secretary-General Dr. Nayef Falah Al-Hajraf, a statement from the group said. Among the first to receive the invite was UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, with the invitation received by the Dubai ruler and Vice-President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.

“The commitment by Gulf leaders to hold the summit on an annual basis, and especially in these exceptional times, is a testament to the strength of the GCC, to their belief in their duty to the people of the Gulf, and their devotion to increasing cooperation and integration among member countries,” Dr. Al-Hajraf said in the statement.

“Today, as the GCC enters its fifth decade with a global pandemic in the backdrop, the institution’s mission to facilitate trade and economic integration among member states is more relevant than at any time in its history.

“The GCC remains focused on meeting the ambitions of the Gulf people, increasing integration, interconnectedness, and trade among member states and the international community. I am grateful to their Majesties and Highnesses, the leaders of the GCC states, for their tireless efforts to further strengthen Gulf cooperation.”

Qatar deal to be announced?

On the geopolitical side, the Gulf countries are reported to be getting ready to finalise an agreement that would put an end to the illegal blockade on Qatar, Kuwaiti media reported earlier this month.

According to a senior official, negotiations are ongoing with the aim of reaching a final settlement at the 41st GCC Summit, when all countries are expected to meet.

Another source also told Reuters that the anticipated deal “could result in a set of principles for negotiations or a more concrete move involving reopening airspace to Qatar as a show of good faith”.

“The Saudis are keen to demonstrate to Biden that they are peacemakers and open to dialogue,” a foreign diplomat in the GCC region told Reuters.

December has also witnessed a series of announcements of a potential breakthrough in the crisis, which was triggered in 2017 when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt imposed an illegal air, land and sea blockade on Qatar and falsely accused it of supporting terrorism. 

Qatar has vehemently and consistently denied the charges.

On December 8, and after a long silence despite Saudi and Kuwaiti talks, Egypt and the UAE officials welcomed the new efforts to end the dispute.

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