October 29, 2019 / 9:25 AM / 17 days ago

Kuwait's ruler opens parliament after medical treatment

Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah al Ahmad al Sabah waves at the end of the opening of the 4th ordinary session of the 15th Legislative Parliament in Kuwait city, Kuwait, October 29, 2019. REUTERS/Stephanie McGehee

KUWAIT (Reuters) - Kuwait’s 90-year-old ruler opened the country’s parliament on Tuesday with a call to fellow Gulf Arab states to end a row that has shattered regional unity, in his first public address since being hospitalised last month in the United States.

Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, who has ruled the OPEC oil producer since 2006, has been trying to mediate in the dispute that has seen Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain impose a boycott of Qatar since mid-2017.

“It is neither acceptable nor tolerable for the dispute between our brothers in the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council to continue,” he said, standing to address lawmakers from a podium in a speech at the annual opening of Kuwait’s National Assembly.

“It weakened our capabilities and threatened our achievements,” he said, calling for the feuding countries to end the rift that fractured the 38-year-old Gulf Cooperation Council that also includes Oman.

Sheikh Sabah returned to Kuwait on Oct. 16 after medical treatment in the United States. State media said he suffered an unidentified health setback in August before travelling to the United States to meet President Donald Trump. The meeting was cancelled after he was admitted to hospital.

The United States sees the protracted dispute as a threat to efforts to contain Iran and has pushed for a united Gulf front.

Riyadh and its Sunni Muslim allies accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism and cozying up to regional foe Shi’ite Iran. Doha denies the charge and says the embargo aims to impinge on its sovereignty.

Reporting by Ahmed Hagagy, Writing by Sylvia Westall; Editing by Alison Williams

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