Qatar’s chief diplomat visits Egypt as relations gradually improve

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.
Tuesday 25/05/2021
Qatar's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani, left, meets with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, in Cairo, Egypt,  May 25, 2021. (AFP)
Qatar's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani, left, meets with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, in Cairo, Egypt, May 25, 2021.

CAIRO – Egypt’s top diplomat met  his Qatari counterpart on Tuesday as ties between the two nations are gradually improving since Egypt and three Gulf nations ended their dispute with Doha 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.

The 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 ministers also discussed the importance of working to take advantage of the great economic and investment opportunities available in the both states, to further the interests of the two countries and peoples, the statement added.

It also noted the talks were an occasion to focus on ways to advance the mechanisms of joint Arab action in facing the challenges in the region, particularly in light of Qatar’s presidency of the Arab League Council.

The two diplomats discussed other regional topics, including a decade-long dispute between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia over the 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  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 of Qatar.

The Qatari foreign minister also travelled to Libya earlier this week. He met  the newly-appointed transitional government in Tripoli which 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.

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 over 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 broadcaster was at the centre of the dispute. The four nations demanded its closure among other measures, which Qatar rejected.