Qatar, Bahrain agree to restore diplomatic relations

Qatar and Bahrain have reached an agreement to restore their diplomatic ties, following a long-running feud between the two Gulf nations.

The two countries’ foreign ministries announced the decision in separate statements on Wednesday, following a meeting between their delegations at the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) headquarters in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

The neighbors “decided to restore diplomatic relations between the two countries according to the principles of the United Nations charter,” Qatar’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

“The two sides affirmed that this step stems from the mutual desire to develop bilateral relations and enhance Gulf unity and integration,” it added.

Bahrain’s foreign ministry released a similar statement, saying the decision was made after the Bahraini-Qatari Follow-up Committee held its second meeting at the GCC headquarters.

The Bahraini-Qatari Follow-up Committee held its first meeting in February, a month after Bahrain’s crown prince spoke with Qatar’s emir by telephone, in a sign that the two Persian Gulf states were moving towards mending relations.

“The two sides affirmed, during the meeting, that this step embodies the directives of the two brotherly States’ leaderships, and their keenness to preserve the future and entity of the GCC, and to work on its gains,” the Qatari foreign ministry said in a statement at the time.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar on June 5, 2017, after officially accusing it of “sponsoring terrorism.”

The four Arab states closed their borders and banned Qatari planes and ships from using their airspace and territorial waters.

Qatar expressed “regret and utter surprise” over the move, saying the decisions by the four Arab states to cut diplomatic ties were unjustified and based on false claims and assumptions.

A reconciliation deal was sealed in January 2021. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt have restored ties with Qatar since then, with top leaders paying official visits in recent months.

The UAE and Qatar have yet to reopen their embassies.

Relations between Qatar and Bahrain have been more difficult to restore due to their decades-old territorial dispute over Hawar Islands and Zubarah Fort.

Bahrain has sovereignty over Hawar, although it lies only 1.9 km away from the Qatari mainland. The country also lays claim to Zubarah Fort, which is internationally recognized as Qatari land.

Wednesday’s agreement comes amid regional efforts to resolve disputes. Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed last month to resume relations seven years after formally breaking off ties.

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