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Bahrain imposes visas on Qatar visitors

Bahrain King Hamad accused Qatar of undermining the security of other GCC member states [Getty[

Date of publication: 1 November, 2017

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Bahrain's King Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa ordered the new rules and urged authorities to strengthen security measures in the tiny Gulf kingdom.

Bahrain has decided to impose visas on travellers from Qatar, which is under blockade by its Arab neighbours, state media reported on Tuesday.

Under Gulf Cooperation Council agreements, citizens of countries in the six-state bloc, including both Bahrain and Qatar, can visit other GCC countries without visas.

But Bahrain's King Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa ordered the new rules on Tuesday and urged authorities to strengthen security measures in the tiny Gulf kingdom, the official BNA news agency said.

Bahrain's Foreign Minister on Monday said Qatar's GCC membership should be suspended until it accepts the demands of its neighbours.

King Hamad also accused Qatar the same day of undermining the security of other GCC member states.

"So long as Qatar continues on this path, Bahrain will not attend any Gulf summit or meeting in the presence of Qatar unless it rectifies its policy and accepts the demands" of the Saudi-led bloc, he said.

GCC members Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and non-member Egypt on June 5 severed ties with Qatar over accusations of supporting extremism and being too close to Shia rival Iran, charges Doha has denied.

Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani said in an interview on Sunday that the demands imposed by the four blockading Gulf states are not worth sacrificing the "dignity and sovereignty" of the nation.

Tamim said the blockade came as a "shock" as the former allies were discussing terrorism and financing terrorism at a meeting in Riyadh just weeks earlier.

"Nobody brought any concern from those countries. Nobody told me anything."

"When they [blockading countries] talk about terrorism, absolutely not. We do not support terrorism."

The bloc's demands are not entirely clear, but they include the closure of media outlets such as Al Jazeera and The New Arab, mothballing a Turkish military base in Qatar, and payment of "compensation" to Gulf states and Egypt.

GCC leaders are scheduled to meet before the end of the year, but the months-long crisis could see the bloc's annual meeting postponed or cancelled. The GCC also includes Oman and Kuwait.

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