Qatar's Emir Won't Join Gulf Summit in Riyadh: Turkey's AA

(Bloomberg) -- The Qatari Emir, Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, will not attend the Gulf Cooperation Council Summit to be held in Riyadh on Sunday, Turkey’s Anadolu Agency reported late Saturday, citing a Qatari official it didn’t identify.

A state minister will represent the country at the meeting instead, AA reported. Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Adbulaziz invited Qatar’s ruler to attend the regional summit in a sign of a potential thaw between the nations.

Bloomberg was unable to independently verify the Anadolu Agency report.

The invitation, which was extended on Dec. 4, was seen as a way for Saudi Arabia to start to overcome international condemnation for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and its conduct in the Yemen war, and diffuse tensions with its neighbor.

The GCC is a six-nation bloc of oil-rich Arab Gulf states, composed of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar.

The invitation also came as the Saudis face renewed pressure to end an 18-month blockade of Qatar over alleged funding of extremist groups and for being too close to Iran. That move put the U.S., which is allied with both nations, in a difficult position.

The Trump administration has said it needs the countries of the region to be united against Iran’s “malign behavior” as it steps up pressure on the Islamic Republic.

Qatar, a member of OPEC since 1961, said on Dec. 3 it would quit the oil cartel to focus on its liquefied natural gas production.

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