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Egypt, Qatar hold first meeting since ending Gulf row

KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait: Qatar and Egypt have held talks for the first time since an agreement last month to end the Gulf crisis that emerged after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed economic and diplomatic ties with Qatar in June 2017.

The blockading nations imposed a land, sea and air blockade, accusing Qatar, among other things, of “supporting terrorism”.

During a Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ula in January, the three GCC members – Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain – and Egypt agreed to restore ties with Qatar.

Related story: Saudi Arabia-Qatar agreement to end hostilities in Gulf

“The two sides welcomed measures each has taken since signing the al-Ula statement, as a step on the path of building confidence between the two fraternal countries,” a statement after the meeting of Qatari and Egyptian delegates in Kuwait said.

On Monday, officials from Qatar and the UAE met in Kuwait for their first bilateral talks since the end of the blockade.

UAE’s WAM news agency reported that both sides “discussed joint mechanisms and procedures for implementing the al-Ula statement”.

“They emphasised the importance of preserving Gulf kinship and developing joint Gulf action in the interest of GCC countries and their citizens, and of achieving stability and prosperity in the region,” it added.

Since the agreement last month, air and travel links have resumed between Qatar and the four states.

Each state is to arrange bilateral talks with Qatar to resolve individual issues.

The 2019–2021 Persian Gulf crisis is an intensification of military tensions between the Islamic Republic of Iran and their allies and the United States of America and their allies in the Persian Gulf region.

The US began a buildup of its military presence in the region to deter an alleged planned campaign by Iran and its non-state allies to attack American forces and interests in the Persian Gulf and Iraq.

Read more: Qatar urges Gulf states to hold talks with Iran

This followed a rise in political tensions between the two countries during the Trump administration, which included the withdrawal of the US from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the imposition of new sanctions against Iran, and the designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organisation.

In response, Iran designated the United States Central Command as a terrorist organisation.