Saudi, Bahrain, Egypt, UAE study plans to relax Qatar restrictions – report

The four countries closed land, air and sea links as part of a boycott that began last June

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE are reportedly studying plans to relax some restrictions on Qatar as the first step towards a wider deal.

UK publication The Guardian said the four countries were considering a proposal to lift restrictions on civilian travel to Qatar as a goodwill gesture after closing land, air and sea links as part of a boycott that began last June.

This would require the reopening of air routes that have forced regional travellers to extend their journeys with changes in Kuwait or Oman to reach Qatar.

Read: Qatar ships home thousands of camels stranded in Saudi via Kuwait

The report comes as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman prepares to visit the UK for talks on Wednesday before heading to the US on March 19.

Read: Saudi crown prince goes West to woo allies, but could it be a tough sell?

The US and UK have been seeking an end to the regional divide, which is centred on Qatar’s alleged support of terrorist groups, in part as it has driven the emirate closer to Iran.

It is sure to be discussed by the crown prince and UK Prime Minister Theresa May and US President Donald Trump during the two visits, despite the latter’s initial support.

The US wants to host the leaders of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council later this year but is hoping for progress on the regional divide before then.

Read: Saudi, UAE, Qatar leaders to visit Trump

To date, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE have demanded that Qatar close broadcaster Al Jazeera and sever ties with Iran under their conditions to end the boycott.