Saudi Arabia thanks Kuwait, US for bridging gap with Qatar as summit begins

Riyadh, Jan 5 (efe-epa).- Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman on Tuesday said he was grateful to Kuwait and the United States for their role in the recent reconciliation between several Gulf nations and Qatar.

The Crown Prince made the remarks as he inaugurated the Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Riyadh.

“We express great thanks and appreciation for the efforts to bridge the gap as these efforts were led by Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad and continued by Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad”, bin Salman said.

“In this regard, we also hail endeavors of the United States of America and all parties that have contributed,” bin Salman added in the speech he delivered on behalf of his father king Salman bin Abdul-Aziz.

These efforts have led to the so-called al-Ula Declaration, signed by the GCC members Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar, as well as the non-Gulf state of Egypt, bin Salman said.

The document “strengthens the bonds of friendship and brotherhood among our countries,” he said. The declaration’s details have not been revealed.

Arab unity is a must to face the “threat” Iran represents for the region, he said.

“Today, we are in utmost need to unite our efforts to advance our region and confront the challenges that surround us, particularly the threats posed by the Iranian regime’s nuclear program,” he said.

“(Iran’s) ballistic missile program, its destructive sabotage projects as well as its terrorist and sectarian activities adopted by Iran and its proxies to destabilize the security (…) in the region,” he added.

Kuwait’s ruler, Nawaf al-Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah, whose country has mediated to resolve the rift, said that the agreement reached at the summit would be in favor of “the cohesion and unity of the Arab nation”.

Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad attended the summit for the first time since 2017, when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and non-Gulf Egypt cut diplomatic, trade and travel ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting militant groups and sponsoring terrorism, accusations that Doha denies.

It was one of the most serious diplomatic spats the GCC has endured since it was created in 1981.

Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz had invited the Qatari emir to attend the summit back in December, but his participation was only confirmed on Monday.

The confirmation came shortly after Kuwait’s foreign minister Ahmed Naser al-Mohamed al-Sabah announced that Saudi Arabia will reopen its border with Qatar.

Upon his arrival to the northwestern Saudi governorate of al-Ula for the summit, bin Hamad was welcomed by bin Salman as per images broadcast by the Saudi state-run TV showing the crown prince and Qatar’s ruler hugging.

In the wake of the news, the Gulf’s main stock markets rebounded, with Qatar’s stock market closing at +1.75 percent higher as the Qatari Emir landed in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul traded as low as -0.30 percent; however, upon signing the al-Ula declaration the stock market rose sharply by 0.17 percent.

Dubai Financial Market closed 1.15 percent higher and Abu Dhabi Securities Index closed 0.55 percent higher.

The declaration has also been welcomed by several countries, including Egypt, which is represented at the summit by foreign minister Sameh Shoukry and Jordan.

“Egypt appreciates every sincere effort made to achieve reconciliation between the countries of the Arab quartet and Qatar, foremost among which are the efforts of the brotherly state of Kuwait, over the past years,” the Egyptian foreign ministry said in a statement.

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