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Cairo welcomes move to heal rift with Doha

Egypt says it is looking forward to settle past differences in response to Saudi Arabian initiative to reconciliate with Qatar

Ahram Online, Wednesday 19 Nov 2014
Sisi and King Abdullah
Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud (Photo Reuters in 8/7/2014)
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Egypt has welcomed a call by Saudi Arabia to back a recent agreement forged between three Gulf States to end a months-long regional rift with Qatar, with whom Cairo has fallen out over support for the Muslim Brotherhood.

In March, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain withdrew their envoys from Doha, accusing it of supporting organisations that undermine the Gulf's stability and interfering in other states' affairs.

Ties between Egypt and Qatar have soured since last year's ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim brotherhood, as Cairo was incensed by Doha's backing of the Islamist group.

But in a summit held in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Sunday to discuss the spat, the three Gulf states – all members of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – agreed to send back their ambassadors, ending a dispute between the Arab Gulf allies.

Saudi King Abdullah on Wednesday called Cairo to back the accord which he said was meant to end differences and to turn over a new leaf in joint cooperation between Arab and Islamic states.

"I appeal to the people and leaders of Egypt to work along with us towards the success of this step in the march of Arab solidarity," the king was quoted as saying in a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency.

In a sign of a possible detente, Egypt said it had "greatly welcomed" the reconciliation move and was "looking forward to a new era that settles the difference of the past."

Egypt "would not hesitate in supporting brotherly states ... and stresses full responsiveness with this sincere invitation, which constitutes a major step forward in the march of Arab solidarity," a presidential statement read.

"The criticality of this stage requires all of us to give priority to unity and sincere work with a common vision," the statement added.

Qatar gave billions of dollars in aid to Morsi while in office and later criticised a crackdown by Egyptian authorities on his supporters following his removal amid mass protests against his year-long rule. The tensions led Egypt to recall its envoy to Qatar earlier this year.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have designated the Brotherhood a terrorist organisation, with the Gulf states regarding its version of Islamic activism as a major threat to their monarchies

Doha has given refuge to some exiled members of the Islamist movement, and its Doha-based Al Jazeera news channel is seen by Cairo as being biased towards Islamists.

The Saudi king said the Gulf organisation – which also includes Oman and Kuwait – stands by Egypt, a key player in the Middle East.
 

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