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Qatari FM Appreciates Border Opening For Haj

Photo: Gulf Times

Qatar has welcomed the move of Saudi Arabia to open the border for Haj, but called it “politically motivated.”

“The government of Qatar welcomes the decision and will respond positively,” HE the Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani told a press conference in Stockholm.

“What matters to us is the bottom line, which is that our citizens now have a way to attend the Haj,” Sheikh Mohamed said.

“Despite the fact it’s been politically motivated to ban the Qatari people from Haj and politically motivated that they allow them (in)…, we welcome such a step, which is a step forward to get rid of this blockade that is imposed against my country”.

The reports of Qatar’s envoy mediating with Saudi Arabia was denied by the minister. He also informed the Swedish minister about the struggles of people as a result of the blockade.

The minister stressed that Qatar is committed to resolve the crisis in a diplomatic manner through Kuwait’s mediation. Qatar’s Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs (Awqaf) and the National Human Rights Committee too welcomed Saudi Arabia’s decision.

The minister believes that such a step would help in reducing the tensions between the nations. The ministry will also urge the Saudi Arabian authorities to ensure safety of pilgrims.

Since the beginning of the siege, the statement said, NHRC “has called for facilitating Haj procedures for citizens and residents of the State of Qatar without restrictions, and also called for regional and international moves to lift the injustice and not to politicise the Haj or use it as leverage against peoples or governments.”

The NHRC added that Haj can’t be “subject to any political or personal mediations or scores,” but rather should be “an inherent right stipulated in all international human rights agreements and conventions and Islamic Shariah.”

The Committee, however, said the Saudi decision remains “unclear,” especially with regards to pilgrims living in Qatar. It called for facilitating procedures for the pilgrims “without discrimination,” saying it looks forward to “further measures to completely lift the siege on the citizens and residents of the State of Qatar and GCC nationals.”

The Salwa border was shut down since June as a result of blockade by the four Arab states. Doha was accused of supporting terrorism, however, the allegation was denied by Qatar.

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