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Saudi Arabia to end blockade, open air, sea and land borders to Qatar


Saudi Arabia agreed to reopen the air, sea and land borders with Qatar starting on Monday evening, Kuwait’s foreign minister said, in a sign that a years-long Gulf row is coming to an end.

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

In 2017, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and non-Gulf Egypt severed diplomatic, trade and travel ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting militant groups, an accusation that 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 that Kuwait’s Emir Nawaf al-Ahmad Al Sabah spoke over the phone with Qatar’s Tamim bin Hamad and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ahead of the Gulf summit.

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

The Kuwaiti emir said that he is confident that 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.