Emir of Qatar calls Saudi Crown Prince, seeks dialogue to end row with Anti-Terror Quartet

Qatar's emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani (left), and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (QNA photo via AFP / SPA file photo)
Updated 09 September 2017
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Emir of Qatar calls Saudi Crown Prince, seeks dialogue to end row with Anti-Terror Quartet

JEDDAH: Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani has called Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to express his desire to start a dialogue and discuss the demands of the Anti-Terror Quartet (ATQ), the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said.
Crown Prince Mohammed received the call on Friday, a day after US President Donald Trump offered to mediate and help resolve the dispute between Qatar and the quartet of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. Trump made the announcement in a joint press conference at the White House with Kuwaiti Emir Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, who had been mediating between Qatar and the ATQ.
The Crown Prince welcomed Sheikh Tamim’s dialogue offer, SPA said, adding that the details will be announced later after Saudi Arabia “concludes an understanding” with its three partners.
The ATQ severed diplomatic relations with Qatar in June, accusing it of supporting extremist groups and of being too close to Iran, which has been accused by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) of fomenting strife in various partrs of the region.
The four countries also shut down air, maritime and land links and imposed economic sanctions on Qatar.
A defiant Qatar rejected the quartet's demands, even though these were reduced from an initial 13 to six. Doha also restored diplomatic ties with Tehran, further widening the rift.
Earlier Friday, Washington said Trump had called the Qatari emir and “stressed the importance of unity in fighting terrorism.”
“The president underscored the importance of all countries following through on commitments from the Riyadh Summit to maintain unity while defeating terrorism, cutting off funding for terrorist groups, and combating extremist ideology,” the White House said in a statement.
Trump and Sheikh Tamim also discussed the continued threat Iran poses to regional stability, the statement said.
The ATQ said in a statement early Friday that dialogue with Qatar should not be preceded by any condition.
And while the ATQ thanked the Emir of Kuwait for his mediation efforts, it made it clear that the military option against Qatar was never on the table.
"The Quartet regrets what the Emir of Kuwait said about the mediation succeeding in preventing a military intervention. (The Quartet) stresses that the military option was never — and never will be — an option in any way."
The ATQ also thanked President Trump for insisting that the only path to resolve this issue is to stop financing terror, and that he wouldn't have the desire to resolve it (the issue) if that is not achieved.


Hajj pilgrims praise Saudi support at Dhaka airport

Updated 2 min 23 sec ago
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Hajj pilgrims praise Saudi support at Dhaka airport

  • Seventy immigration officials from Saudi Arabia are currently in Dhaka to accomplish pilgrims’ immigration tasks
  • At the airport, Saudi authorities have established 15 booths to serve pilgrims, who have to record 10-finger impressions in the Kingdom’s immigration database

DHAKA: Pre-immigration facilities provided by Saudi Arabia for Hajj pilgrims in Bangladesh have helped reduce waiting times by several hours after their arrival at airports in the Kingdom, several of them said on Wednesday.
The program is part of Saudi Arabia’s Road to Makkah initiative, whereby pilgrims can complete immigration at airports in their home country instead of doing it on arrival in the Kingdom.
From this year, Bangladeshi pilgrims are enjoying pre-immigration facilities at Dhaka airport.
“Among the 127,000 Bangladeshi pilgrims, this year 60,500 of them will have the opportunity to complete the immigration formalities at Dhaka airport,” Bangladeshi Religious Affairs Secretary Anisur Rahman told Arab News.
“From next year, all Bangladeshi pilgrims will enjoy this pre-immigration system at Dhaka airport.”
Seventy immigration officials from Saudi Arabia are currently in Dhaka to accomplish pilgrims’ immigration tasks. Three Saudi organizations are working at Dhaka airport to accomplish these tasks.
At the airport, Saudi authorities have established 15 booths to serve pilgrims, who have to record 10-finger impressions in the Kingdom’s immigration database.
In addition, at the immigration counter officials take photographs of the pilgrims, Rahman said.
“The pre-immigration system was supposed to be launched from the first Hajj flight on July 4, but due to technical issues we couldn’t do that on the first day. However, things are now running very smoothly,” he added.
Abdul Kayum Bepari, a Bangladeshi pilgrim who completed his Saudi immigration formalities at Dhaka airport, told Arab News: “It’s an amazing experience. All immigration formalities were completed within a minute. When I performed Hajj in 2011, it took more than four hours for me to complete the immigration formalities at the Saudi airport.”
Bangladeshi pilgrim Sadek Ali told Arab News: “Everything is very disciplined. This pre-immigration system has truly eased the hassle of thousands of Bangladeshi pilgrims.”
Pilgrim Bulbuli Begum told Arab News: “My Saudi immigration formalities took only a few seconds to be completed.”
Pre-immigration support for Bangladeshi pilgrims will continue until the last Hajj flight, which is scheduled on Aug. 5.
“We’re trying to ensure maximum support and comfort to the pilgrims,” said a Saudi immigration official at Dhaka airport.
“They don’t even need to worry about luggage. Once the pilgrims land at a Saudi airport, they’ll immediately board hotel-bound buses and will receive their luggage at the hotel.”