• UAE Editorial

Kuwait foreign minister: Saudi-Qatar air, land and sea borders to open tonight

Agreement brokered by Kuwaiti emir comes on eve of GCC Summit that will mark start of 'new page'

Kuwait's Foreign Minister said on Monday that an agreement had been reached to open the airspace and land and sea borders between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, starting this evening.

Ahmad Al Sabah said that during a phone call between Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Nawaf, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the desire for unity and "reunification was emphasised".

Based on a proposal by Sheikh Nawaf, it was agreed on that the borders between Saudi Arabia and Qatar would be reopened.

It was also agreed that the signing of Al Ula statement would mark "the beginning of a bright page in fraternal relations".

The agreement comes on the eve of the 41st Gulf Co-operation Council Summit, being held in Al Ula in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.

In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt cut diplomatic, trade and transport ties with Qatar over its support of extremist groups aiming to destabilise the region.

Sheikh Nawaf said he hoped the summit of "reconciliation" would be good for the GCC countries and Egypt and address "all related issues and return matters to normal".

Shortly after the announcement of the opening of Saudi-Qatari borders, Sheikh Tamim confirmed that he would attend the summit.

Earlier, Prince Mohammed said the summit would be "unifying" and would "close the ranks", the Saudi Press Agency reported.

He said the kingdom's policy was based on "achieving the ultimate interests of the GCC member states and the Arab countries".

Sheikh Nawaf extended his "deep thanks and gratitude" to Saudi King Salman and Prince Mohammed "for the great interest they attach to the success of the summit's work", Sheikh Ahmad said.

On Monday, he delivered a verbal message from Sheikh Nawaf to Sheikh Tamim, which included discussing ways to strengthen ties between the two countries.

On Saturday, Sheikh Ahmad met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and also delivered a message from Sheikh Nawaf.

Kuwait and the US have been working on mediation to resolve the Qatar crisis but it was ultimately the hosting of the GCC Summit in Saudi Arabia that brought about the breakthrough.

The initial step of opening borders between Saudi Arabia and Qatar is expected to be followed by further developments as an intra-Gulf dialogue gains momentum during the summit on Tuesday and afterwards.

Nayef Al Hajraf, Secretary General of the GCC, said that the agreement to reopen borders between Saudi and Qatar was "a reflection of sincere efforts being made to ensure the success of tomorrow’s summit across all areas, despite the exceptional circumstances created by the [Covid-19] pandemic".

"Today’s announcement once again proves that the GCC embodies a deep-rooted partnership that consistently overcomes challenges while advancing the interests of the GCC people thanks to the leadership and wisdom of its leaders,” Mr Al Hajraf said.

The UAE's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr Anwar Gargash, said that Al Ula summit would be "historic ... through which we restore Gulf cohesion and we are keen to ensure that the security, stability and prosperity of our countries and peoples are the first priority.

"We have more work [to do] and we are [going] in the right direction," Dr Gargash said.

After the announcement of the agreement to reopen Saudi-Qatar borders, a US official told The National that senior advisor to President Donald Trump, Jared Kushner was on his way to Saudi Arabia to attend the GCC summit.

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© 2023 UAE editorial

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