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Saudi king absent at GCC summit overshadowed by Qatar crisis

Saudi king absent at GCC summit overshadowed by Qatar crisis

DOHA: The Qatari emir was the only head of state  other than his Kuwaiti host  at a gulf summit on tuesday, as leaders including Saudi Arabia’s King Salman stayed away from a meeting that was overshadowed by the rift with Qatar and ended a day early.

The Saudi delegation was headed by Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir, while Bahrain sent its deputy prime minister to the Gulf Cooperation Council meeting, hosted by Kuwaiti leader Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah. The United Arab Emirates was represented by its junior foreign minister, Anwar Gargash, while Oman followed its recent precedent by sending its deputy premier to represent Sultan Qaboos.

The leaders’ absence was an apparent snub to Qatari ruler, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and to Kuwait’s efforts to mediate an end to the Saudi-led boycott of the gas-rich nation. Saudi Arabia, along with the U.A.E., Bahrain and Egypt, cut diplomatic and transport links with Qatar in early June, accusing it of funding extremism and criticizing its ties with Shiite-led Iran. Doha has repeatedly denied the allegations.

On the eve of the Kuwait meeting, the U.A.E. set up a committee to bolster military, economic, trade and cultural ties with Saudi Arabia. While it’s not clear whether the committee will undercut the role played by the GCC  a loose alliance aimed at promoting ties, the timing was symbolic.