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Gulf states to restore links with Qatar within a week: UAE

The Gulf states will restore travel, trade and transport links with Qatar within a week, the UAE said Thursday, after a landmark deal to normalise ties ended a damaging rift.

Saudi Arabia and its allies the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, in June 2017 slapped a boycott on Qatar over claims it backed Islamist groups and was too close to Iran.

The quartet agreed to lift the restrictions at a summit Tuesday in the Saudi desert city of Al-Ula, after energetic diplomacy from the Trump administration which was keen for a foreign policy win in its closing days.

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said that although rebuilding confidence and addressing difficult geopolitical issues were longer-term tasks, there was a push to quickly restore physical links.

“The practical measures will be within a week… including travel, transportation, trade etc,” he told a press briefing, also flagging the prompt reopening of diplomatic missions.

Analysts have warned that the hasty reconciliation did not address underlying resentments which risk resurfacing.

And the United Arab Emirates, the staunchest critic of Doha and its leadership throughout the crisis, was seen as a reluctant party to the rapprochement.

But Gargash said that the UAE endorsed the process, even if the thornier issues including Qatar’s relationship with Iran and Turkey’s presence in the Gulf may take time to work through.

The UAE is “behind this deal, and positive about the prospect of re-establishing relations with Qatar,” he said.

“We recognise that any crisis will leave its repercussions, and dealing with the repercussions from that perspective will take some time.”

Washington had intensified pressure for a resolution to what Doha called a “blockade”, insisting Gulf unity is necessary to isolate US foe Iran.