Qatar, Saudi Arabia edge towards diplomatic thaw

Updated 05 Dec 2019

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Observers are eagerly awaiting Qatar’s response, which could pave the way for a  “reconciliation conference” despite the many hurdles that obstruct the path to a detente. — Reuters/File
Observers are eagerly awaiting Qatar’s response, which could pave the way for a “reconciliation conference” despite the many hurdles that obstruct the path to a detente. — Reuters/File

DOHA: The Saudi monarch’s personal invitation to Qatar’s emir to take part in a Gulf summit in Riyadh next week is the latest sign of a highly anticipated thaw in a damaging two-year row.

Observers are eagerly awaiting Qatar’s response, which could pave the way for a “reconciliation conference” despite the many hurdles that obstruct the path to a detente.

“Signs that a reconciliation is impending are multiplying,” said Kristian Ulrichsen, a fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute in the United States.

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. Doha vehemently denies the charges.

Fittingly for a spat that involves the host nation of the 2022 World Cup, many of the peace overtures centre on football.

Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2019