Saudi crown prince plans fence-mending trip to Qatar

March 11, 2008

RIYADH (AFP) -- Saudi Arabia's crown prince began a three-day visit to Qatar on Monday as part of efforts to heal a long-standing diplomatic rift between the two Persian Gulf states, a Saudi official said.

""Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz will hold talks with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani concerning events in the Persian Gulf region and Arab world,"" the official told AFP without giving further details.
The trip will be the first time a member of the Saudi government has made an official visit to Qatar since Riyadh recalled its ambassador from Doha in 2002 when the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television aired a debate in which participants strongly criticized the Saudi royal family.
Saudi Arabia last month announced it would be moving its ambassador in Syria to act as its top envoy in Qatar.
Ties have improved in recent months between the two wealthy neighbours, with Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah attending a Persian Gulf summit in Doha in December, three months after a visit to Jeddah by Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani.