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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 June 2018

Saudi crown prince dismisses Qatar dispute as a 'small issue' 

Mohammed bin Salman says public offering of state oil firm Aramco will not be affected

A new committee to investigate public corruption led by the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, pictured, has been announced. Courtesy Saudi Press Agency
A new committee to investigate public corruption led by the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, pictured, has been announced. Courtesy Saudi Press Agency

The regional boycott of Qatar is a minor issue and will not affect Saudi Arabia's plans to revamp its economy, the kingdom's crown prince has said.

Crown prince Mohammed bin Salman said the partial listing of state oil firm Aramco, the centrepiece of his Vision 2030 plan to diversify the Saudi economy, would go ahead next year as planned.

"We are on track in 2018 … but the listing [details] are still under discussion," Prince Mohammed told Reuters in an interview. "It will be IPO-ed in 2018."

Asked whether the rift with Qatar had dented investor sentiment ahead of the initial public offering, Prince Mohammad dismissed the impact of the political impasse.

"Qatar is a very, very, very small issue," he said.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with Qatar in June, accusing it of supporting terrorism. Doha denies the accusations and has refused to meet the conditions laid down by the quartet for the resumption of trade and travel links.

Prince Mohammed also said the Saudi-led coalition's war in Yemen would continue in order to prevent the Iran-backed Houthi rebels from turning into another Hizbollah on Saudi Arabia's southern border.

"We're pursuing until we can be sure that nothing will happen there like Hizbollah again, because Yemen is more dangerous than Lebanon," he said.

The Lebanese Shiite movement, armed and backed by Riyadh's arch-rival Iran, is a formidable force in Lebanon and has extended its influence into Syria after entering the civil war there to support Syrian president Bashar Al Assad.

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