May 26, 2019
CAIRO (Reuters) – Qatar has been invited by Saudi Arabia to attend two emergency Arab summits being convened in the Saudi city of Mecca on May 30, Qatar’s foreign ministry said on Sunday, after previously saying it had not been.
Last week Qatar said it had not been invited to the two summits Saudi is planning in Islam’s holiest site to discuss the implications of drone strikes on oil installations in the kingdom and attacks on four vessels, including two Saudi oil tankers, off the UAE coast earlier this month.
Saudi, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have imposed an economic and diplomatic boycott on Qatar since June 2017 over allegations that Doha supports terrorism and is cosying up to regional foe Iran. Qatar denies the charges.
Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani received an invitation from Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to attend the summit of Gulf Arab rulers and a wider meeting of Arab leaders, the Qatari Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The invitation and a letter was passed to Qatar by the head of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the statement said, without saying whether Qatar would accept it.
Saudi Arabia has accused Iran of ordering the drone strikes, for which Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis claimed responsibility.
The kingdom said that while it did not want war in the region, it was ready to respond strongly. The UAE has not blamed anyone for the sabotage of the tankers pending an investigation, and said it was committed to de-escalation.
Iran has denied it carried out either attack.
The UAE has said that the current “critical circumstances” in the region required a “unified Arab and Gulf stance”.
(Reporting by Nayera Abdallah in Cairo; Writing by Lisa Barrington in Dubai; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and Daniel Wallis)