Qatar emir in surprise Saudi visit, holds talks on Gaza

AFP
Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim Ben Hamad Al Thani in Paris, on June 24, 2014
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Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim Ben Hamad Al Thani in Paris, on June 24, 2014 (AFP Photo/Etienne Laurent)

Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) (AFP) - The emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, made a surprise visit Tuesday to Saudi Arabia where he discussed developments in strife-torn Gaza with King Abdullah, state media said.

The two leaders "discussed cooperation between the two countries, in addition to developments... topped by the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories," SPA state news agency said.

The visit comes amid intensifying efforts to end 15 days of violence between the Israeli army and militants in the Gaza Strip, which is largely controlled by the Islamist movement Hamas.

Relations between Doha and Riyadh remain tense after sinking to a new low in March when Saudi Arabia pulled its envoy from Qatar, along with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

They accused Doha of meddling in their affairs.

Qatar's support for the Muslim Brotherhood, the movement of Egypt's former president Mohammed Morsi who was ousted by the army in July 2013, has infuriated the Gulf states that fully backed the then military-installed government.

Egypt has proposed a ceasefire in Gaza followed by indirect talks.

But Hamas has said it would not accept the Egyptian proposal, insisting instead on firm commitments first to end Israel's eight-year blockade of the coastal enclave.

Hamas has also sought a role for Turkey and Doha in the efforts to reach a truce.

UN chief Ban Ki-Moon stopped in Doha on Monday as he began a regional tour to push for a ceasefire in Gaza.

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