x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Tensions ease between Saudi and Qatar

Saudi Arabia and Qatar are to demarcate their border and set up a council to develop relations.

Gulf neighbours Saudi Arabia and Qatar are to demarcate their border and set up a joint council to develop relations after years of tension, the official SPA news agency reported. The decision was taken after two successive visits last week to the Saudi summer capital of Jeddah on the Red Sea by the Qatari prime minister and foreign minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabr al Thani, it said. The move is a further step towards normalising relations between the two members of the six-nation Gulf Co-operation Council.

In 1992 differences over the frontier sparked an armed clash at a border post that killed two people. The incident prompted the creation of a joint committee aimed at solving the dispute, but little progress was made. Ten years later Riyadh withdrew its ambassador from Qatar in 2002 amid fury at criticism of the Saudi royal family aired in a talk show by the Doha-based television channel Al-Jazeera.

In March, Qatar and Saudi Arabia sealed a thaw in ties when the Saudi crown prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz visited Doha. Although King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia had attended a Gulf regional summit in Doha in December last year, the Sultan's trip was the first by a Saudi leader since 2002. SPA reported that the joint co-ordination council to oversee relations would be co-chaired by the Saudi crown prince and the Qatari premier.

It said the council would develop "bilateral relations in the political, security, financial, economic, trade, investment, cultural and information domains". *AFP