A tête-à-tête meeting between President Hosni Mubarak and Qatari Prime Minister Hamad Ben Jassem today in Cairo paved the way for intensified cooperation between Egypt and Qatar.
Qatari and Egyptian diplomatic sources say that both countries are keen to upgrade relations after five years of rift.
On the table is large-scale economic cooperation, including more Qatari investment in Egypt, and closer political consultations.
The rift between Egypt and Qatar, according to Egyptian diplomats, opened when Qatar took a role in attempts to resolve thorny regional conflicts traditionally the preserve of Egypt — especially the situation in Gaza and Sudan.
This, Egyptian diplomats say, is now taken care of. "We accept the role that Qatar wants to play as a growing political mediator in the Middle East, and Qatar accepts to notify and cooperate with us," said one Egyptian diplomat.
Meanwhile, expanding political and economic cooperation between the two sides will likely mean a smoother ride for the Egyptian regime on the Qatari-owned Al-Jazeera satellite channel.
Cairo already sees that the channel's coverage of parliamentary elections in Egypt on 28 November and 6 December was much milder than expected.
President Mubarak was in Doha for talks with Emir of Qatar Hamad Ben Khalifa on 24 November. The visit marked a new beginning in Egyptian-Qatari relations.