Saudi Arabia to send plane to Doha for Qatar pilgrims

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The state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said the Salwa border point would be open for Qataris making the haj, which this year runs from late August to early September.

The meeting in Jiddah was the first by a Qatari royal in Saudi Arabia since a political standoff erupted 10 weeks ago when the kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed ties with Qatar.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz said Thursday he will open his country's border with Qatar - amid a months-long diplomatic standoff - to allow Hajj pilgrims to enter the Kingdom, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

He also ordered that the transport of all Qatari pilgrims from King Fahad International Airport in Dammam and Al Ahsa's International Airport will be done free of charge.

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Later, Qatari authorities alleged Saudi Arabia of politicising hajj and jeopardising the pilgrimage to Mecca by denying guarantee regarding safety of their pilgrims.

Somalia's neutralitiy in the ongoing Gulf region crisis has generated a lot of pressure for the Horn of Africa country to join the Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates faction against Qatar.

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Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said he welcomed the Saudi decision, but that the measures must also include a full lifting of the blockade.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE attempted to host the Taliban before the hard-line militant group set up an office in Qatar, a former fighter turned mediator has said.

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The hajj, a pillar of Islam that capable Muslims must perform at least once, is to take place at the beginning of September.

But some observers cautioned that the diplomatic crisis was far from over, despite the apparent bonhomie.

"He (King Salman) didn't invite them to his own house".

Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani in Riyadh on May 21, 2017. Doha dismissed the allegations, saying they had "no basis in fact".

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