Qatar concerned about safety of citizens during Haj: FM

 19 Aug 2017 - 8:06

Qatar concerned about safety of citizens during Haj: FM
FILE PHOTO: A Muslim pilgrim prays atop Mount Thor in the holy city of Makka October 11, 2013. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

The Peninsula

Qatar’s government has expressed concerns over the security and safety of its citizens in Saudi Arabia who are crossing the border to perform the annual Haj following Riyadh’s move of reopening its border with Doha for pilgrims only.

Foreign Minister H E Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani with Norway’s Foreign Minister, Borge Brende, in Oslo yesterday. 

Foreign Minister H E Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani yesterday told a news conference that Qatar is concerned about the safety of its citizens in Saudi and the Saudi authorities had yet not responded to queries from Qatar’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs regarding the security of its citizens during the Haj rituals. “The Saudi authorities have yet to respond to queries from the Qatari Ministry of Islamic Affairs regarding the security of Qatari citizens during Haj,” the Minister said. Al Thani was speaking at a news conference yesterday with Norway’s Foreign Minister Børge Brende in Oslo, Norway. 

The Minister said: “The level of tension between the two nations, the language and the tone of the Saudi media spreading hatred against Qatari people represents a great concern for us.” 

“Those people crossing the border right now are under the responsibility of the Saudi authorities for their security and safety,” the Foreign Minister added.

He noted that “more than 100” Qatari pilgrims had crossed the border to Saudi Arabia since the reopening of border on Thursday. Qatar has welcomed Saudi Arabia’s decision to reopen the Salwa border crossing, also known as Abu Samrah, to Haj pilgrims, but called it “politically motivated.”

Foreign Minister held a meeting with Norway’s Foreign Minister Børge Brende (H) and discussed bilateral relations, means of boosting and developing them as well as developments of the Gulf crisis and a number of regional and international issues of mutual interest.

The Minister thanked the Norwegian Foreign Minister for his country’s position calling for the dialogue among all parties.

The Minister briefed his counterpart on the humanitarian impact of the Gulf crisis. He referred to the National Human Rights Committee’s record of cases, the most prominent of which are cases involving family dispersal, especially women and children, and racial discrimination against Qatari students.

The Foreign Minister reiterated Qatar’s supportive stance of the Kuwaiti mediation, dialogue and an effective and sustainable diplomatic solution based on respect for international law and sovereignty. He also briefed his Norwegian counterpart on the status of Kuwaiti mediation, stressing Qatar’s positive interaction with it.

The Foreign Minister also stressed Qatar’s keenness to enhance the prospects of cooperation with the Kingdom of Norway.

According to Norway Today, Brende visited Qatar in February this year and during his visit met Emir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and Foreign Minister H E Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani and Dr Ali bin Sumaikh Al Marri, Chairman of the Qatar National Human Rights Committee. 

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates cut their diplomatic ties with Qatar on June 5, and imposed siege of the country including the border crossing point with Saudi Arabia.