Qatar’s top diplomat visits Egypt amid improving ties


CAIRO — Egypt’s top diplomat met Tuesday with his Qatari counterpart as ties between the two nations gradually improve since Egypt and three Gulf nations ended their dispute with the energy-rich country earlier this year.

Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry and Qatar’s top diplomat and Deputy Prime Minister Mohammad bin Abdulrahman Al Thani met in Cairo and discussed “the positive development” in ties between the two countries, according to a statement by Egypt’s Foreign Ministry.

A January declaration put an end to a diplomatic crisis that began in 2017 with a rift between Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain on one side and Qatar on the other.

The four countries had jointly boycotted Qatar and hoped an embargo and media blitz would pressure it to end its close relations with Turkey and Iran. Egypt and the UAE view the support by Qatar and Turkey of Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood as a security threat. Saudi Arabia and Bahrain were primarily concerned about Qatar’s ties with Iran.

The countries accused Qatar of cozying up to Iran and financing extremist groups in the region, though Doha denied the charges. Qatar-based Al-Jazeera was at the center of the dispute. The four nations demanded its closure among other measures, which Qatar rejected.

Tuesday’s statement said the ministers discussed taking further measures that aim at promoting “the positive atmosphere” in their bilateral ties. It did not elaborate on details.

The two diplomats also discussed other regional topics, including a decade-long dispute between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia over a massive dam Ethiopia is building on the main tributary of the Nile River, the statement added. Egypt and Sudan deem the Ethiopian dam a major threat to their water security.

Al Thani arrived in Cairo late Monday from a trip to Khartoum where he met with Sudanese officials, his first visit to Sudan after an uprising led to the military’s ouster of Omar al-Bashir in April 2019. Al-Bashir, an Islamist, was an ally to Qatar.

The Qatari foreign minister also traveled to Libya earlier this week. He met with the newly appointed transitional government in Tripoli that has been struggling to unite the divided North African country before an election scheduled in December. Egypt and Qatar have been backing opposing sides in war-torn Libya.

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