Bahrain criticizes Qatar emir for not attending Gulf Arab summit

RIYADH (Reuters) – Bahrain’s foreign minister criticized Qatar’s emir on Sunday for not attending an annual Gulf Arab summit in Saudi Arabia, a decision that shows there is little hope for an imminent resolution of a rift between Doha and three Gulf Arab states.

Qatar sent its state minister for foreign affairs to the summit, whose backdrop is the dispute that has seen trade and diplomatic ties severed between the sides since mid-2017.

“Qatar’s emir should have accepted the fair demands (of the boycotting states) and attended the summit,” foreign minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa said in a tweet.

The Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) annual summit was set to open in Riyadh on Sunday at a time when the country is under pressure over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October.

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Qatar’s emir attended last year’s gathering in Kuwait, while Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain sent more junior officials.

King Salman was shown on Saudi TV greeting Omani and UAE officials upon their arrival on Sunday for the one-day gathering of the six member states that is expected to focus on security issues, including the Yemen war and Iran’s regional activities.

The meeting may touch on oil politics and a diplomatic and economic boycott imposed on Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and non-GCC member Egypt since June 2017 over allegations it supports terrorism. Doha denies the charges and says the boycott aims to curtail its sovereignty.

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