Qatar's prime minister, but not its head of state, attended the GCC regional summit for the first time since a 2017 Saudi-led embargo. Doha had announced last week that a rapprochement was underway.
With a warm reception from Saudi King Salman, Qatar was welcomed back to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on Tuesday at a summit in Riyadh. Although head of state Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani skipped the proceedings, his distant relation Qatari Prime Minister Abdullah bin Nasser Al Thani came to the Saudi capital for what local TV called "brotherly talks."
Footage was also played of Thani and King Salman sipping coffee, smiling and chatting ahead of the meeting.
Kuwait, which has long pressed to resolve the issues between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, commended a call from the King for unity; however, a senior United Arab Emirates official said ahead of the summit that that "the onus lies with the one that caused the crisis, to reconsider erroneous policies that led to its isolation."
The Gulf row began in 2017, when Egypt and Bahrain joined the UAE and Saudi Arabia in severing diplomatic and transport ties with Doha. Qatar's neighbors accused the country of supporting terrorists, though analysts believe the spat had more to do with Qatar's relationship to Saudi Arabia's regional rival Iran.
The rift saw both sides trade barbs on everything from access to the holy city of Mecca to alleged Twitter hacking. In the end, the embargo appeared to hurt Riyadh's side more than Doha's.
In May, leaders of Qatar and Saudi Arabia met for the first time since the row began when Qatari PM Abdullah met King Salman for an emergency meeting about attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf. At the time, the two appeared tense with one another and shared only an awkward handshake.
However, last week Qatar said he was engaging in talks with Riyadh in a bid to end the feud.
In the final communique of the summit, there was no mention of the two-and-a-half-year dispute. After a closed-door meeting of only 20 minutes, the leaders issued a statement simply calling for the need to boost military and security cooperation and pledging to create a financial and monetary bloc by 2025.
es/msh (AFP, dpa, Reuters)