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Saudi Arabia to end Qatar blockade

Saudi Arabia has agreed to reopen air, sea and land borders with Qatar in a sign that a years-long Gulf row is coming to an end.

The announcement, carried by Kuwait’s official news agency KUNA on Monday, comes hours before a planned Gulf leaders’ summit in Saudi Arabia, set to end a diplomatic rift between a Saudi-led bloc and Qatar.

In 2017, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and non-Gulf Egypt severed diplomatic, trade and travel ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting militant groups, an accusation Doha denies.

Kuwait and the United States have since been trying to mediate a solution to the crisis.

Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Ahmad Nasser Al Sabah said in a televised statement Kuwait’s Emir Nawaf al-Ahmad Al Sabah spoke by phone with Qatar’s Tamim bin Hamad and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ahead of the Gulf summit.

He said “during the call everyone was keen on unity and reunion … and they will sign a summit statement, which will launch a new chapter in their brotherly relations that are free of any obstacles”.

He added Saudi Arabia and Qatar agreed to a proposal by the Kuwaiti emir to open air, sea and land borders between them from Monday evening.

The Kuwaiti emir said he is confident other GCC leaders and Egypt are keen to make the summit an occasion for “reconciliation that boosts unity … and a new start to address all issues and return to normal,” according to KUNA.

In a further sign of a thaw, Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani is to head Qatar’s delegation to the summit, the Qatar News Agency reported late on Monday.

This will mark the first time that Tamim has attended a Gulf summit since 2017.

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