Qatari Emir Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani has decided to skip the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) held in Riyadh on Sunday, sending the country’s state minister for foreign affairs to head the delegation, amid ongoing diplomatic crisis with Qatar’s Persian Gulf neighbors, Qatari Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ahmed AlRumaihi said on Sunday.
“Qatari State Minister for Foreign Affairs Soltan Al-Muraikhi arrived in Riyadh at the head of Qatar’s delegation to attend the summit of the cooperation council [GCC],” AlRumaihi said via his official Twitter feed.
The state minister has no portfolio, meaning that he is not responsible for any particular area of the Qatari government’s activities, performing mainly representational functions on the part of the Qatari government.
Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud invited the Qatari emir to the 39th GCC despite the fact that three out of six council members have broken off diplomatic relations with Doha. Al-Thani, in turn, declined the invitation.
The Qatari emir did attend last year’s GCC meeting in Kuwait as well, although Al-Thani and Kuwait’s emir, Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, were the only heads of state present at the event, with the other four GCC member countries — Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — sending low-level representatives.
Qatar has been under a diplomatic and economic blockade since last June, when the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain cut off diplomatic relations and communication with Doha, accusing it of supporting terrorism and interfering in their internal affairs.
Doha, in turn, has denied the allegations and criticized the restrictive measures imposed against it.