Bahrain’s crown prince and the Qatari emir have held a phone conversation, according to Bahraini state media, in a sign the two Gulf states could move towards repairing ties two years after the lifting of a regional boycott of Qatar.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt in January 2021 ended a three-and-half-year blockade on Qatar but since then there have been no bilateral discussions between Doha and Manama to resolve differences.
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BNA state news agency said that in Wednesday’s call with Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Bahrain’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa “emphasised the importance of joint efforts to resolve all outstanding differences”.
“It was also agreed that officials from both countries will continue to communicate to achieve common goals,” BNA’s readout of the call added.
The conversation came after Qatar’s emir and Bahrain’s king attended a small Arab summit hosted by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) president in Abu Dhabi last week that was also attended by the rulers of Oman, Jordan and Egypt.
In June 2017, the four countries had broken off diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar over claims it was too close to Iran and backed hardline groups, allegations Doha has always firmly denied.
In January 2021, the blockading quartet agreed to restore ties in a summit hosted by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the desert city of al-Ula, following a flurry of diplomatic activity.
Saudi Arabia has since led efforts to rebuild ties with Qatar and, along with Egypt, re-established diplomatic relations. The UAE and Bahrain have yet to do so. All but Bahrain restored travel and trade links in 2021.
BNA’s readout of Wednesday’s call said the discussion also highlighted the importance of preserving the cohesion of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which counts both Bahrain and Qatar as members, as well as regional security and stability.