Bahrain PM calls Qatar emir in rare contact amid Gulf dispute

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Bahrain‘s long-serving prime minister has called Qatar’s emir to mark the start of the holy month of Ramadan in a rare contact between Doha and the countries boycotting it.

Bahrain’s state-run news agency acknowledged the call between Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa and Qatar’s Emir,Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, in a report early on Tuesday.

It described the call as “restricted” to Ramadan greetings, and according to Bahrain’s cabinet affairs minister, it “does not represent the official position of the Kingdom of Bahrain and will not affect its commitments withSaudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt on the implementation of whatQatarhas committed to in 2013 and 2014 and the just demands that had followed”.

Since June 2017, Bahrain, Egypt, theUnited Arab Emiratesand Saudi Arabia have imposed adiplomatic and commercial embargoon Qatar, accusing the latter of “supporting terrorism”.

Doha, for its part, strenuously denies the claim, describing the ongoing embargo as a violation of international law.

On Monday, the UAE released a Qatari naval vessel and four sailors it had seized nearly a week earlier.

In its statement on Monday, Qatar’s Foreign Ministry expressed satisfaction over the vessel’s release.

“The ship was conducting a routine drill when it encountered a technical problem and was swept into Emirati waters, where it and its crew were seized by the Emirati authorities,” the statement read.

“Qatar has worked in recent days, through all available diplomatic channels and with mediation by friendly states, to secure the safe return of the vessel and crew,” it added.

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