Middle East/North Africa

Saudi crown prince visits Qatar for first time since 2017 embargo

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is on his first visit to neighbor state Qatar since the 2017 blockade of the country was imposed by Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies.

Mohammed Bin Salman is on a tour of the region that began Monday, and Qatar marks his third stop ahead of a Gulf Leaders summit later this month, Reuters reported.

He has already stopped in Oman and the United Arab Emirates, where he visited Dubai’s Expo 2020 summit. He will next travel to Bahrain and Kuwait, according to Reuters.

Qatar’s ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani tweeted photos greeting the crown prince on Wednesday in Doha.

Since the blockade was eased in January this year, Qatar has resumed trade and travel links with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt after a standstill for four years. These relations were not resumed with Bahrain. 

Bin Salman’s tour is focused on enhancing coordination between the Gulf states and is aimed at strengthening the work of the regional body before the summit on Dec. 14, Saudi state media reported.
 
The summit will be the first since Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt agreed to end a dispute with Qatar over its foreign policy that led them to sever diplomatic ties with Doha.
 

  
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates cut all ties with Qatar in 2017, after alleging that the state supported extremist groups and accused Qatar of having close ties with Iran.

The U.S. has strong ties with Qatar, which hosts U.S. Central Command at the Al Udeid Air Force Base and is a key staging ground for American counterterrorism operations in the region.

Qatar also agreed to formally represent U.S. interests in Afghanistan, according to a new agreement signed by the two countries in November, creating a new pathway for the U.S. to assist American citizens and allies left behind in America’s chaotic exit.

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