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Sun 25 May 2014 06:39 PM

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Bahrain rules out imminent return of Qatar ambassador

Foreign minister said he was "still working on overcoming differences" with Doha

Bahrain rules out imminent return of Qatar ambassador
Bahrains foreign affairs minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed al-Khalifa (right). (Getty Images)

Bahrain on Sunday ruled out returning its ambassador to Qatar soon, signalling that efforts to resolve the unprecedented rift within the US-allied Gulf Cooperation Council have yet to bear fruit.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE recalled their ambassadors from Doha in March, accusing Doha of failing to abide by an accord not to interfere in each others' internal affairs.

The three GCC states are angry at Qatar's support for the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist movement whose ideology challenges the principle of conservative dynastic rule long dominant in the Gulf.

The Gulf Arab states in April agreed on steps to try to heal the rift.

But Bahrain state news agency BNA said on Sunday the foreign minister, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, speaking about a GCC meeting in Saudi Arabia on Saturday to assess progress in efforts to end the dispute, had said: "Bahrain's ambassador to Qatar will not return to resume his duties in Doha at the present time".

"The GCC committees are still working on overcoming differences," the agency quoted the minister as saying.

There were few details after the GCC meeting in April on what would make Qatar drop its support for the Muslim Brotherhood. Gulf officials had said that Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain wanted Qatar to end any financial or political support for the Brotherhood.

The movement has been declared a terrorist organisation by Saudi Arabia, in a move precipitated by the Egyptian army's overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi last year.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE resent Doha's sheltering of prominent Brotherhood preacher Youssef Al Qaradawi, a critic of the two states' rulers, and his regular air time on Qatar's pan-Arab satellite channel Al Jazeera and on Qatari state television.

Qatar has said that its foreign policy is "non-negotiable".