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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

Quartet to open air corridors to Qatar for emergencies

Decision announced by Saudi civil aviation agency after countries boycotting Doha held meeting in Manama

Bahraini foreign minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, left, walks in to a press conference as Saudi foreign minister Adel bin Ahmed Al Jubeir, Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukri and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed after their talks on their dispute with Qatar, in Manama on July 30, 2017. Hamad I Mohammed / Reuters
Bahraini foreign minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, left, walks in to a press conference as Saudi foreign minister Adel bin Ahmed Al Jubeir, Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukri and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed after their talks on their dispute with Qatar, in Manama on July 30, 2017. Hamad I Mohammed / Reuters

The four countries boycotting Qatar over its support for terrorism have said they will allow Qatari planes to use air corridors in emergencies.

"Nine corridors have been identified including one in international air space over the Mediterranean sea that will be monitored by the Egyptian authorities," the Saudi state news agency reported on Sunday, citing a statement from the Saudi aviation authority.

International aviation organisations have been informed, it said, adding that the corridors will be open from August 1.

The announcement came on the same day that the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain met in Manama to discuss their next steps in the crisis.

The four countries severed diplomatic ties with Qatar on June 5 and cut off sea, land and air links, accusing Doha of supporting extremism and terrorism.

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The Saudi statement said the air corridors were identified under supervision of the UN's International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

Qatar had earlier approached the ICAO to discuss reopening Gulf airspace. The 36-state aviation governing council could act to settle the overflights row presented by Qatar, but such interventions are rare and time-consuming because the UN agency usually negotiates disputes through consensus.

The quartet of boycotting countries said after the Manama meeting on Sunday that they would not back down on their position on Qatar and the conditions they have set for ending their action.