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39th Gulf Cooperation Council summit ends in Riyadh

39th Gulf Cooperation Council summit ends in Riyadh

Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar - come together every year to discuss trade and security co-operation.

King Salman's son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, sat prominently behind his father during the summit. "This has also caused the rest of the world to look at us as an entity with cracks forming in its unity, and that we can no longer guarantee the interests of other nations as we could when our unity was stronger".

But the Qatari Emir did not respond to an invitation from the Saudi king to attend the summit and instead sent his foreign minister. Al-Muraikhi offered no comments during the open session of the GCC meeting. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt have imposed an air, land and sea blockade of Qatar since June 2017.

"Qatar can make its own decisions and had attended [last year's] Kuwait summit while the leaders of the boycotting countries did not", said Ahmed bin Saeed Al Rumaihi, director of the information office at Qatar's foreign ministry.

Qatar's emir skipped a one-day annual summit in Saudi Arabia on Sunday with fellow Arab Gulf leaders whose boycott of the small but energy-flush neighbour has sparked a regional diplomatic row.

They called for addressing all obstacles to achieve economic integration by 2025 and to complete the requirement for the creation of the common market and customs union. Qatar restored full diplomatic ties to Iran amid the dispute.

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The participants pointed out that the China is a major partner of the Arab and Gulf region, especially the State of Qatar, through investment, supporting various industries and helping to meet the needs of the Qatari people in the areas of infrastructure, technological food industries, culture and education, pointing out that the Qatari potential is large and its infrastructure allows the implementation of large industrial and scientific zones.

Qatar's natural gas reserves have made the Arabian Peninsula country fantastically wealthy, sparking its successful bid for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

"It's a work in progress and the two parties want to see it happen", said Jubeir, adding that the alliance would include Egypt and be called the Middle East Strategic Alliance, or MESA.

"GCC unity's been a really important pillar for USA engagement with this region, with the Gulf, with the Middle East".

The Trump administration has said it needs the countries of the region to be united against Iran's "malign behavior" as it steps up pressure on the Islamic Republic.