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Qatar postal blockage ends as regional rivals restore service

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Doha (AFP)

A postal blockage against Qatar has ended with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt restoring services, the UN postal agency said Tuesday, after mail links were severed in 2017 as part of a campaign to isolate Doha.

The three nations, along with the United Arab Emirates, cut all diplomatic, trade and transport ties with Qatar in June 2017.

The bloc accused Doha of backing radical Islamists, including the Muslim Brotherhood, and seeking closer links with Saudi arch-rival Tehran -- allegations Qatar vehemently denies.

The restoration of postal services is a small step towards normalisation. But talks to resolve the wider rift have stalled, Qatar said earlier this month, after a flurry of diplomacy late last year raised hopes of a breakthrough.

Representatives of the four boycott countries met a Qatari delegation at the Universal Postal Union's (UPU) headquarters in the Swiss capital Bern on January 29 to discuss the reestablishment of postal links.

The UAE had already resumed services to Qatar on February 9, according to the UPU, the UN agency responsible for coordinating global postal services.

"I warmly welcome the resumption of international postal exchanges between these countries via transit through Oman," UPU director general Bishar Hussein said in a statement.

"All of the countries, including Oman, deserve praise for their commitment and dedication to ensuring that postal items continue to be exchanged and delivered over the Union's single postal territory."

Oman has provided Qatar with respite from the boycott measures, making its ports available to Qatari imports and exports that would have previously transited the UAE.

Oman, along with Kuwait, has been involved in so far fruitless efforts to broker an end to the regional rift.

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