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Gulf States agree to end eight-month diplomatic row with Qatar

An extraordinary meeting of GCC leaders in Riyadh on Sunday reportedly saw an agreement struck to end a diplomatic spat with Qatar
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia at Sunday's meeting of GCC leaders held in his capital Riyadh (SPA)

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE agreed on Sunday to return their ambassadors to Qatar, according to a statement by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) issued after a meeting its members in Riyadh.

The three Gulf States withdrew their ambassadors from Doha in March in protest at, among other issues, Qatar’s perceived support for the Muslim Brotherhood across the Middle East and North Africa.

After an extraordinary meeting of GCC leaders in Riyadh on Sunday - barring Oman which reportedly did not send a delegation - a statement was issued saying a “new page” in relations had been opened between member states “that will present a strong base, especially in light of the sensitive circumstances the region is undergoing".

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Qatar have all joined the US-led anti-Islamic State coalition, which has involved a series of air strikes carried out against the militant group that controls large swathes of Iraq and Syria.

“Based on that, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the kingdom of Bahrain decided to return their ambassadors to the state of Qatar,” the GCC statement said, without revealing any details of the meeting in Riyadh.

In March, Saudi Arabia designated the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation, just two days after withdrawing their ambassador from Qatar, where senior members of the group have sought sanctuary since Mohammed Morsi was ousted from the Egyptian presidency in a popularly-backed military coup in July 2013.

The UAE backed the decision, but on Saturday officially declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group, along with 82 other organisations including civil liberties organisation the Council on American-Islamic relations. The announcement was criticised as “beyond ludicrous” by Anas al-Tikriti whose London-based Cordoba Foundation also featured on the Emirati terror list.

While details are sparse on Sunday’s meeting in Riyadh, which has seemingly brought an end to the eight-month long rift, Gulf News reported that the ambassadors agreed to be reinstated after Qatar “pledged not to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries” in the GCC.

The GCC statement did not specify a date for the return of the ambassadors, but it is now expected the annual GCC summit will go ahead as planned in Doha next month. Qatar is due to serve as the rotating president of the GCC for the year 2015.