UAE, Saudi hold first meeting of the two-nation council

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Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have held the first meeting of their new military and trade alliance that is separate from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Wednesday evening in Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah.

The two countries formed the partnership in December last year amid an ongoing regional rift that has divided members of the GCC council – a political and economic alliance of six countries that includes Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait and Oman.

On June 5 last year, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar, sparking the biggest diplomatic crisis in the Gulf in years.

Land and maritime borders with the Gulf country were closed, air links suspended and Qatari citizens expelled.

Accusing Doha of supporting “terrorists” and being too close to Saudi Arabia’s region rival Iran, Riyadh said it acted to “protect its national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism”.

Qatar has repeatedly rejected the accusations levelled against it, viewing the campaign as an attempt to impose custodianship over the nation. It has called the allegations “baseless”.

The partnership between the two countries, which militarily intervened in neighbouring Yemen in an attempt to drive out Houthi rebels, was announced during the 38th GCC summit in Kuwait City.

The two-day key regional summit was cut short and concluded after a closed session that kicked off the conference.

At the time, regional expert Majed al-Ansari from Qatar University said: “It seems that there is an intention by the by the Saudis and Emiratis, especially with the timing of the announcement [of the new partnership] … to say that the GCC is effectively dead.”

SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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