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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 September 2018

GCC summit to convene despite Qatar crisis

A senior Kuwaiti official confirmed that the meeting would take place on December 5 and 6 but said the level of representation was not yet clear

The last time the leaders of the six Arab Gulf countries were all together was in May 2017 at the 17th GCC Consultative summit in Riyadh. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar less than a month later, as did Egypt.  Hamad Al Kaabi / Crown Prince Court - Abu Dhabi
The last time the leaders of the six Arab Gulf countries were all together was in May 2017 at the 17th GCC Consultative summit in Riyadh. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar less than a month later, as did Egypt. Hamad Al Kaabi / Crown Prince Court - Abu Dhabi

An annual summit of heads of state of the GCC countries will convene in Kuwait next week despite the rift between some of the countries and Qatar.

A senior Kuwaiti official on Wednesday confirmed the meeting would take place on December 5 and 6 but said the level of representation was not yet clear.

It is not known if Qatar will attend the summit, but local newspapers reported that officials in Kuwait are preparing for all representatives to be present.

The Kuwaiti ministry of interior is placing all security forces on standby beginning next week – a procedure that commonly precedes major events in the Kuwaiti capital, a source told The National.

The summit, if attended by both sides of the ongoing rift, will be the first official meeting between Qatar and its three Gulf neighbours – Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain – that cut diplomatic ties with Doha on June 5 over allegations it supports and harbours extremists. Egypt also severed relations with Qatar at the same time.

Event organisers said plans are still in motion to prepare for the summit.

Many look to the meeting as the best chance for resolving the row as the host country's ruler, Kuwaiti Emir Sabah Al Ahmed, has played the role of chief mediator in what will be a six-month old crisis by next week..

“We are not a party in this, we are one part of two brothers,” he said last month at the opening of Kuwait’s National Assembly. “Despite our hopes and desires, the crisis carries with it the possibility for development and we must be fully aware of the risks of escalation.”

However, Bahrain said in October that it will refuse to attend the summit if Doha does not change its policies and urged the other countries to suspend Qatar’s 35-year membership of the GCC.

Earlier reports had indicated the GCC summit might be postponed for six months so that disputes could be resolved and tensions eased between the Gulf states.

Two Gulf diplomats also said Kuwait, which had led unsuccessful mediation efforts between the two sides, would again try to use the meeting to resolve the rift.

The crisis, which began in June, saw Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut all ties with Doha over its support of terrorism and its attempts to undermine the stability of its neighbours. Doha denies the accusations.

Qatar says the four countries are trying to force Doha to fall in line with their own foreign policy views.

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