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Bahrain criticizes Qatar emir for not attending Gulf Arab summit

Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa
Bahraini FM Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa

Bahrain's foreign minister criticized Qatar's emir on Sunday for not attending a Gulf Arab summit in Saudi Arabia, an absence that suggests a rift between Doha and three Gulf Arab states is unlikely to be resolved soon.

Qatar sent its state minister for foreign affairs to the annual one-day summit that is overshadowed by the economic and diplomatic boycott of Doha since mid-2017 by Riyadh, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt over allegations Doha supports terrorism. Qatar denies the charges.

"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.

In response, Ahmed bin Saeed AlRumaihi, director of the information office at Qatar's foreign ministry, said: "Qatar can make its own decisions and had attended (last year's) Kuwait summit while the leaders of the boycotting countries did not."

The Gulf Cooperation Council's (GCC) summit of six member states was set to open in Riyadh on Sunday.

Saudi TV showed King Salman greeting officials from the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait on their arrival.

The summit is expected to focus on oil politics, security issues including Yemen's war and Iran's regional activities and Qatar, which says the trade and transport boycott aims to curtail its sovereignty.

Doha last week abruptly announced it was exiting the oil exporters' group OPEC after 57 years to focus on gas.

While the boycotting states have said the row is not a priority for them and that the GCC remains valid, Doha has said the dispute harms regional security by weakening the bloc.



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