DUBAI (Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates (UAE) wants to set up a bilateral committee with Saudi Arabia on economic, political and military issues, consolidating ties after a rift with Qatar ripped through the existing regional bloc of Gulf Arab countries.
UAE president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan was seeking the formation of a “joint cooperation committee”, the UAE’s state news agency WAM reported. Saudi Arabia has not yet commented.
The six members of the U.S.-allied GCC - Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar - are due to hold their annual summit in Kuwait on Tuesday.
The UAE’s announcement may cast a shadow on the meeting which Qatar’s emir is expected to attend. Bahrain said last week it would not attend if Qatar was present.
The proposal also coincides with an escalation in the conflict in Yemen, where both Saudi Arabia and the UAE are heavily involved. Veteran former president Ali Abdullah Saleh was killed in a roadside attack on Monday after switching sides in Yemen’s civil war, abandoning his Iran-aligned Houthi allies in favour of a Saudi-led coalition.
Founded in 1980 as a bulwark against bigger neighbours Iran and Iraq, the GCC is facing an existential crisis after Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt accused Qatar of supporting terrorism, a charge Doha denies.
Two Gulf diplomats said Kuwait, which had led unsuccessful mediation efforts between the two sides, would try again to use the meeting to resolve the rift.
Reporting By Reem Shamseddine; Writing by Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky