Qatar Ruler Gets Invite to Attend Summit That May Ease Gulf Rift

Qatar’s ruler received an invitation from Saudi Arabia’s king to attend next month’s Gulf Cooperation Council summit, which may help to ease a dispute that shattered regional unity and set back U.S. efforts to isolate Iran.

GCC Secretary General Nayef Falah Al-Hajraf delivered the invitation to Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani for the summit on Jan. 5, according to a statement. It didn’t specify whether the ruler accepted the invitation.

The summit is seen as possible a step in resolving a crisis that erupted in mid-2017 when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed trade, travel and diplomatic ties with Qatar. There have been U.S.-backed attempts to end the dispute.

The potential rapprochement comes as U.S. policy appears poised for a sharp turn, and may be intended to get things moving before President Donald Trump leaves office.

President-elect Joe Biden has said he’s interested in rejoining the 2015 Iran nuclear deal that Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain opposed, and will take a tougher line on human rights concerns than his predecessor.

The boycotting states accused Qatar, the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, of meddling in their internal affairs and supporting hard-line Islamist groups, which Doha denies. They are also wary of Qatar’s relations with Iran, with whom it shares the world’s largest gas field.

Qatar denied the accusations and in 2019 quit the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, over the row. The GCC comprises Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Oman.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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