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Saudi ambassador to Qatar returns to Doha - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jabir Al-Sabah (C) greets Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz (seated) as the rulers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states met in an emergency session in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on November 16, 2014. (AP Photo/SPA)

Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jabir Al-Sabah (C) greets Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz (seated) as the rulers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states met in an emergency session in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on November 16, 2014. (AP Photo/SPA)

Riyadh and Dammam, Asharq Al-Awsat—Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Qatar, Abdullah Al-Ayfan, returned to Doha on Monday, following an agreement to end a rift between Qatar and its neighbors earlier this week.

An emergency meeting in Riyadh on Sunday resulted in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain ending their dispute with fellow member-state Qatar, and agreeing to return their ambassadors to the country after a seven-month absence.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Ayfan said he was now restarting his work in the Qatari capital, and that all diplomatic relations had returned to normal.

He said he hoped the recent meeting in Riyadh would pave the way for further political and economic cooperation between all GCC countries, leading to what he called a “genuine union” between them, as proposed by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz.

King Abdullah hosted the Riyadh meeting, which came about due to Saudi–Kuwaiti efforts.

The meeting saw the four GCC members put an end to a diplomatic row that came to a head in March when Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain withdrew their ambassadors from Doha, citing what they said was the latter’s interference in the internal affairs of other GCC states.

The dispute revolved around Doha’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood, to which Gulf countries are generally opposed, as well as Qatar’s hosting of members of the Egyptian branch of the organization following the ouster of former Egyptian president and senior Brotherhood figure, Mohamed Mursi, in July 2013.

King Abdullah received a telephone call on Monday from the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, thanking him for his role in ending the dispute, and assuring him of Qatar’s commitment to maintaining good relations with other Gulf countries.

Qatar also expressed its gratitude to both King Abdullah and Kuwait’s Emir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jabir Al-Sabah, for their role in organizing the meeting and helping end the dispute, in a statement issued by the country’s foreign ministry on Monday.

Qatar is due to host the upcoming annual GCC meeting next month, though senior sources within the GCC told Asharq Al-Awsat last week that it was unlikely to be go ahead while the dispute continued, due to the reservations of other member states about it being held in Doha.

Gulf sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that talks are currently underway to hold preparatory meetings for GCC foreign ministers—which traditionally precede the annual meeting—at the end of November, with another meeting to be held immediately before the annual gathering of GCC leaders.

Mirza Al-Khuwaylidi contributed reporting from Dammam