Qatar ruler holds rare meeting with Saudi king


Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani discussed with Saudi King Abdullah ties between the two countries and regional issues during a brief visit, official media of both countries said.

The talks covered "developments on the Gulf, Arab, Islamic and international scenes, in addition to the prospects of cooperation between the two countries and ways of boosting them in all fields to serve the interests of the two brotherly countries and peoples," said the Saudi SPA news agency.

Qatar’s QNA news agency said they discussed ways of developing "the brotherly ties" between their countries and "developments on the regional and world scenes."

Abdullah hosted an iftar banquet — the fast-breaking meal during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan — for the emir, who was accompanied by Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabr al-Thani.

The Qatari premier had himself made a surprise visit to Saudi Arabia in July.

The emir’s trip came some three months before Qatar is due to host the annual year-end summit of the pro-Western Gulf Cooperation Council grouping Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates alongside Qatar.

The heads of state gathering is expected to be held in early December.

Abdullah, who was then crown prince and de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, boycotted a GCC summit in Qatar in 2002.

A Gulf diplomatic source in Riyadh said one of the aims of the emir’s visit was to "improve the atmosphere" between Riyadh and Doha ahead of the GCC summit and ensure that King Abdullah will attend it.

Tensions have long marked relations between the two neighbours, who often snipe at each other through their respective media.

Saudi Arabia has not had an ambassador in Doha since recalling its envoy in 2002 when the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera news channel aired a debate in which participants strongly criticised the Saudi royal family.

Qatar has an ambassador in Saudi Arabia

Five years ago, Saudi Arabia opposed a proposed pipeline through its territory to carry Qatari gas to Kuwait, reportedly because of its political differences with Doha.

Qatar has since said the project has been dropped and Kuwait last year announced the discovery for the first time of large quantities of non-associated gas.


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