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Riyadh 'cannot bar Doha' from upcoming Arab League summit

Mohammed bin Salman at a G20 conference in Hangzhou [Getty]

Date of publication: 7 March, 2018

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Mohammed Bin Salman said Qatar would not be barred from this year's Arab League Summit in Riyadh, which is required to send official invitations to all Arab countries to attend

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman said that Qatar, which his country has blockaded since June, would not be barred from this year's annual Arab League Summit held this year in Riyadh.

Riyadh is required to send official invitations to all Arab countries to attend the Arab League summit. Political observers had previously suggested that freezing Qatari membership in the Arab League could be a way to avoid the official invite and still bar Qatar from attending.

However the de facto Saudi ruler said the ongoing Gulf diplomatic crisis could last a long time.

The comments were made to local editors during Salman’s visit to Egypt and were published in Al-Shorouk newspaper.

Doubts swirled around the annual summit scheduled for 23 March, as it comes days before the 26-28 March presidential elections in Egypt. The kingdom’s standoff with Qatar also cast further question-marks on the event.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt broke off ties with Qatar in June, accusing it of supporting extremists and being too close to Iran, Riyadh's arch-rival.

After cutting off all ties with Qatar, Saudi Arabia and its allies imposed a land, sea and air blockade of the emirate and issued a list of 13 demands to have it lifted.

The list of demands included shutting down media outlets Al Jazeera and London-based The New Arab, curbing relations with Iran and closing a Turkish military base in the emirate.

Qatar denies the allegations and accuses the bloc of aiming to incite regime change.

Salman's comments, published on Wednesday, appear to sidestep the thorny issue.

During his remarks with journalists, the crown prince also described Iran, Turkey and military groups as the “contemporary triangle of evil”.

He added that Saudi Arabia is seeking to end close ties between Iran and Russia and Syria.

Prior to Salman's arrival in the UK today, the crown prince was urged to end the blockade of Qatar. 

Earlier this month, US President Donald Trump also threatened to scrap the Camp David summit if the Qatar dispute was not resolved. 

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