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Postal services between Qatar and boycotting states resume following talks

Mail exchanges were severed in June 2017 after the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt imposed a boycott on Qatar
Skyline of Qatar's capital Doha, taken on 20 December, 2019 (AFP)

Postal services have resumed between Qatar and four countries - Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) - the United Nations postal agency announced on Tuesday, nearly three years after mail links were suspended due to a Gulf Arab political dispute.

“I warmly welcome the resumption of international postal exchanges between these countries via transit through Oman,” Bishar Hussein, director general of the Universal Postal Union (UPU), which is responsible for coordinating global postal services, said in a statement.

“All of the countries, including Oman, deserve praise for their commitment and dedication to ensuring that postal items continue to be exchanged and delivered over the Union’s single postal territory,” he added.

Since June 2017, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt have imposed a boycott on Qatar, severing diplomatic and transport ties with the tiny yet very wealthy state, accusing it of supporting terrorism.

Doha has denied the allegations and said the pressure is aimed at stripping it of its sovereignty.

The service resumption came after the UPU held a meeting on 29 January with postal representatives from Qatar and the four boycotting countries at its headquarters in Switzerland to discuss how to improve ties, the statement said.

All countries were invited to provide a response before 21 February, and have now agreed to resume the postal exchanges, it added.

The UAE was the first to restore services to Qatar, resuming indirect services on 9 February with mail transported via Oman, according to a notice from state-run Emirates Post sent to other postal firms and seen by Reuters.

The restoration of mail services is a small step towards normalisation. But talks to resolve the wider rift have stalled, Qatar said earlier this month, after a flurry of diplomacy late last year raised hopes of a breakthrough.

Oman has provided Qatar with respite from the boycott measures, making its ports available to Qatari imports and exports that would have previously transited to the UAE.

Oman, along with Kuwait, has been involved in so far fruitless efforts to broker an end to the regional rift.