Qatar Downgrades Delegation on Egypt's Half-Hearted Invitation

(Bloomberg) -- A half-hearted invitation to the Arab League summit is causing new friction as the Gulf rift smolders.

The Qatari emir’s invitation to the meeting in Egypt was sent to the Greek embassy in Doha and was barely an invitation at all, the Qataris say. They’ve answered the snub by downgrading their representation at the meeting of heads of state in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, attended by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and European leaders.

Egypt is among the four nations led by Saudi Arabia that severed diplomatic and trade links with Qatar in June 2017, over its support for political Islamic movements and friendly relations with Iran. Kuwaiti and U.S. mediation has failed to break the impasse.

“Egypt broke international protocol in the language and format of the invite received by Qatar,” Qatar’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “Unlike the other invites sent to Arab heads of states, the invite for Qatar was not addressed to the head of state and was sent to the Greek embassy in Qatar, instead of our permanent representative in the Arab League.”

Adding insult to injury, “the style of the letter was that of a memo that mentions the summit, rather than a standard official invite,” according to the Qatari statement.

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said the invitation conformed to the state of relations between the countries. “This is natural because relations have been severed,” he told MBC Egypt TV.

Don’t expect tit for tat, Qatar signaled. We are “fully committed to joint Arab action and to working with our EU partners,” it said. “Our policy when it comes to such unprofesisonal behavior has always been and will always be taking the higher road.”

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