Bahrain will open its airspace to Qatar as of January 11, the civil aviation affairs authority said on Sunday, following a US-backed deal by Arab states last week to end a dispute with Doha. The move comes after Riyadh announced a breakthrough at a summit on Tuesday to end the bitter political row in which Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt imposed a diplomatic, trade and travel boycott on Qatar in mid-2017.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE have already announced reopening air, land and sea entry points to Qatar. Saudi Arabia's foreign minister had said at the summit that the four states agreed to restore all ties with Qatar which were severed over accusations that Doha supports terrorism. Qatar denies this and says the embargo aimed to curb its sovereignty.
However a senior UAE official said last week that while trade and travel links could be resumed within a week, restoring diplomatic ties would take more time as parties rebuild trust. In a sign of continued tension, Bahrain's foreign ministry earlier on Sunday said Qatar's coast guard arrested Bahraini bodybuilding champion Sami Al Haddad while on a fishing cruise and called on Doha "to stop attacking Bahraini fishermen at sea and unfairly arresting them".
The director of Bahrain's coast guard operations said in a separate statement that Haddad and another Bahraini were arrested on Friday over allegations of entering Qatari territorial waters in the third such incident since November. There was no immediate comment from Qatari authorities. In December, Qatar's interior ministry said its coastguard stopped a Bahraini cruiser catching fish in Qatari territorial waters and arrested three people.
The previous month, Bahrain's interior ministry accused Qatari coastguard vessels of violating regional and international agreements after they stopped two Bahraini boats inside Qatari waters.
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