June 12, 2017 / 4:03 PM / 7 months ago

Oman welcomes Gulf's step on intermarried families in Qatar crisis

RIYADH, June 12 (Reuters) - Oman welcomed a decision by three Gulf countries to give special consideration to families with Qatari spouses and children on Monday, after they cut ties with Qatar last week and expelled Qatari nationals from their countries.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain announced hotlines to help the mixed families yesterday, a step Oman said would aid “humanitarian cases of families shared between them and Qatar” in a statement on state news agency ONA.

“It is considered by the Sultanate to be a good step toward calm,” the statement said.

The three countries portrayed the coordinated move, announced yesterday, as an attempt to lessen the humanitarian impact of their June 5 decision, which has caused travel and shipping disruptions. However, they did not make clear what services the hotlines would provide.

Oman is a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council but takes a relatively independent diplomatic approach from the other five states in the bloc, especially on relations with Iran, a sticking point in the dispute with Qatar.

It has allowed Qatar to open new shipping services from its territory to sidestep a port ban that accompanied the severing of ties, enabling the small Gulf state to secure a food lifeline .

Reporting by Katie Paul, editing by Larry King

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