Qatar’s emir will attend an economic summit due to take place in Egypt in mid-March, sources from both countries said on Monday, in a sign of easing political tension between the Arab states.
Qatar’s support for former Egyptian Islamist President Mohamed Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood created tensions with Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who ousted Mursi in 2013 and cracked down on the Brotherhood since his election as president last year.
Qatar’s role as a host to exiled Brotherhood leaders has irritated Egypt, which along with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates considers the Brotherhood a political threat.
“A formal invitation letter has been presented from Egypt’s president to the Qatari emir to attend the economic summit in Egypt,” said an Egyptian official source in the Gulf. A source close to Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad said the invitation has been accepted.
Egypt hopes summit in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh will attract foreign investors to boost an economy battered by years of political turmoil.
Qatar has taken steps to improve relations with Cairo, including suspending broadcasts by the Qatari-owned al Jazeera television of an Egypt-focused channel, and the departure in September of seven senior Muslim Brotherhood figures.
Sources close to Qatar’s government say the Brotherhood members were not expelled and left at their own free will.
Al Jazeera said it was rolling Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr (AJMM) into a new channel reporting live events from around the world, not just Egypt.
Egyptian authorities are still putting pressure on Qatar to hand over Assem Abdel Maged, a senior member of the Islamist group Gamaa Islamiya who is wanted on terrorism charges, according to security sources.
Sources close to the Qatari government say that officials in the Gulf state have not declined or agreed to hand over Abdel Maged, but also said that handing him over would go against the country’s principles.