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Report: Saudi-Qatar talks to end Gulf dispute collapse

February 12, 2020 at 9:49 am

King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud makes a speech during the 39th Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on December 09, 2018. [Bandar Algaloud/Saudi Kingdom Council/Handout/Anadolu Agency]

Talks between Saudi Arabia and Qatar to resolve a dispute between the two Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states collapsed shortly after kicking off in October last year; Reuters reported six informed sources as saying yesterday.

The news agency quoted four Western diplomats in the Gulf and two sources familiar with Qatar as saying.

According to the sources, Qatar’s priority from the talks was to restore freedom of movement for its citizens, reopen the airspace of boycotting countries and Qatar’s only land border with Saudi Arabia.

Three of the diplomats told Reuters that Riyadh wanted Qatar to first show a fundamental change in its behaviour, especially its foreign policy.

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Two Gulf sources familiar with the talks said that Saudi Arabia, which represents the countries boycotting Qatar, ended the talks after the GCC annual summit held in Riyadh in December.

The Western diplomats said that Riyadh wanted to achieve a foreign policy victory before hosting the G20 Summit in 2020 and recover from the damage caused to its reputation by the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

The Saudi-Qatari talks began in October more than two years after Riyadh, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with Doha claiming it supported terrorists. Charges Qatar vehemently denies.