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Saudi King Salman cancels visit to Germany, skips G20 summit

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz (Photo by AFP)

The German government has announced that King Salman of Saudi Arabia will be a main absentee in the weekend summit of the group of major industries and emerging economies, known as the G20.

A government spokesman said Monday that the Saudi King had officially declared his intention to skip the pre-planned visit to Hamburg in northern Germany, where he was to attend the G20 summit on Friday and Saturday.

"The government has received official notification that King Salman will not travel to the G20 summit," said the spokesman, without elaborating.

Other sources said that Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan would attend the summit instead.

According to media reports, Riyadh had rented out a luxury hotel in its entirety in Hamburg for the king and his delegation.

The cancelation comes amid a widening dispute in the Persian Gulf region, where Saudi Arabia and its allies cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism. The dispute, one of the most serious to rock the region in decades, has already concerned Western governments, which see their interests in the region at great stake as a result of the political conflict.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel on Monday began a regional tour of several Arab states in an apparent bid to mediate between Qatar and the Arab governments. Reports said he was to meet his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir before heading to the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait.

German Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel (Photo by AFP)

The emir of Kuwait has been shuttling between capitals in the Persian Gulf to work out a solution. On Monday, he requested Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain to give Qatar a 48-hour extension to meet a list of 13 demands in exchange for the end of the anti-Doha measures.

Doha, which has dismissed allegations of supporting terrorism altogether, has rejected the terms put by Saudi Arabia and its allies as a clear intervention in its internal affairs.

King Salman will not be the only head of state to shun the upcoming G20 summit in Germany. Brazilian President Michel Temer, entangled in a string of corruption and bribery allegations back home, would also be absent in the event in Hamburg. 

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