Qatar’s emir visits Saudi Arabia, holds talks with crown prince
Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani has visited Saudi Arabia for the first time since the signing of a declaration with the kingdom and other Gulf states to ease a years-long rift.
Sheikh Tamim was welcomed on Monday at the airport by Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman (commonly known as MBS) in the Red Sea city of Jeddah.
The two leaders then held talks at al-Salam Palace, where they discussed bilateral relations and “the means to enhance them in different fields”, as well as regional and international developments, according to Qatar’s state media.
Saudi Arabia, along with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, broke off diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar in June 2017 over claims it was too close to Iran and backed hardline groups, allegations Qatar has always firmly denied.
But in early 2021, the blockading countries agreed to restore ties with Qatar following a flurry of diplomatic activity by the administration of former US President Donald Trump.
Sheikh Tamim last travelled to the kingdom in January for a summit hosted by MBS in the desert city of al-Ula, which concluded with a declaration to end the rift.
Qatar, which is hosting the FIFA football World Cup next year, emerged from the regional spat largely unscathed and resolute in the face of the assault.
It rejected the quartet’s demands, which included that it shut down the Al Jazeera news network and expel a small contingency of Turkish troops from its territory.
The campaign achieved little in the face of forcing Qatar to change its policies and pushed the gas-rich nation in closer alliance with Turkey and Iran, while also continuing to strengthen its relationship with the United States.
Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also travelled to Saudi Arabia for a two-day visit as Ankara seeks to mend ties with Riyadh that hit an all-time low over the 2018 killing in Istanbul of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The visit is the first by a high-level Turkish official since the murder of Khashoggi by Saudi agents inside the kingdom’s consulate.