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Bahrain ready to work with estranged Qatar on airspace sovereignty

Bahrain ready to work with estranged Qatar on airspace sovereignty
By Reuters
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By Allison Lampert and Alexander Cornwell

- Bahrain is ready to work on Qatar's ambition to gain control of its own airspace, a government spokesperson said, in a sign of a rapprochement between the two estranged states.

Bahrain, which says it manages the airspace under an agreement with Qatar, and three other Arab states cut political, trade and transport ties with Doha in 2017.

While all states agreed in January to renormalize relations, with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE all restoring ties with Qatar to varying levels, there has been no apparent progress with Bahrain.

Members of a U.N. aviation body this week supported Qatar's efforts to gain control over its airspace, two sources familiar with the private talks said.

Members of the International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) council said Qatar, Bahrain and other Gulf states should discuss and agree on "technical arrangements" to create a Doha flight information region (FIR), one said.

"The ICAO Council has invited Bahrain and Qatar, as well as interested regional countries, to conduct further work jointly, drawing upon a proposal by Qatar to amend the existing airspace arrangements," a Bahrain government spokesperson told Reuters.

"Bahrain is committed to the process for discussing appropriate arrangements under the auspices of the ICAO President. It will closely cooperate with the President’s office, the ICAO and neighbouring states, including Qatar, to reach an agreed solution."

Qatar's government communication's office did not respond to several requests for comment.

An ICAO spokesman said he could not provide details about a specific council decision until it is final.

ICAO cannot impose rules on states, but regulators from its 193-member countries almost always adopt and enforce its international aviation standards.

Bahrain's foreign ministry this week said Qatar had not responded to two invitations to hold bilateral talks to settle outstanding issues between the states.

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