09:52 GMT18 January 2021
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    Qatar and its Persian Gulf neighbours have been locked in a bitter diplomatic dispute since 2017, when several Arab nations severed ties with Doha, accusing it of supporting terrorism - a claim Qatar has denied. However, the regional crisis showed signs of a breakthrough after Riyadh and Doha agreed to reopen their borders and airspace on Monday.

    The members of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, which includes Bahrain, the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, and Saudi Arabia, have signed a "solidarity and stability" agreement that effectively puts an end to the diplomatic spat between Doha and other members of the council.

    Under the agreement, the Gulf kingdoms are expected to lift the blockade on Qatar and reopen their airspace as well as land and maritime borders with the peninsular monarchy. However, the exact contents of the deal have not been disclosed yet.

    "These efforts helped us reach the agreement of the Al-Ula statement that will be signed at this summit, where we affirm our Gulf, Arab and Islamic solidarity and stability", Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said, as broadcast by Al-Arabiya.

    The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf is holding its 41st summit in the province of Al-Ula in north-western Saudi Arabia. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the Arab monarchs decided to meet in person rather than hold a virtual meeting, which was supposed to take place in late 2020.

    Senior adviser to US President Donald Trump Jared Kushner, who has been working to reconcile Qatar and other countries of the region before Trump's term ends, was also present at the summit.

    Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh al-Shukri also attended the gathering as a representative of the country, which severed ties with Doha along with the Arab monarchies in 2017.

    Earlier, on the eve of the summit, Saudi Arabia announced the lifting of the blockade of Qatar and the reinstatement of air, maritime, and land traffic between the two nations.

    The Gulf row dates back to 2017, when the Gulf monarchies and Egypt broke off diplomatic ties with Doha accusing it of supporting terrorism and interfering in their internal affairs. Qatar has vehemently denied the accusations.

    Persian Gulf, agreement, Qatar
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