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Qatar Frees Bahraini Sailors Held Up to Several Months
A watercraft from the Bahrain Harbor Control escorts the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman into the harbor in April 2016. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Gary Granger Jr.)

Qatar Frees Bahraini Sailors Held Up to Several Months

Authorities in Qatar released three Bahraini sailors and several Asian workers who were in its custody, for periods of time ranging from three days to several months.

The Qatari action on Thursday is the first move toward Bahrain since the Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Saudi Arabia earlier this month, during which a reconciliation agreement was signed to end 43 months of estrangement between Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt on one side, and Qatar on the other.

The Bahraini interior ministry in a statement announced the release of the three sailors, but noted that their boats were not released, and that Qatar is still holding 50 boats seized from Bahraini sailors.

The sailors will return to Bahrain via Oman, since direct flights have not been reinstated between Bahrain and Qatar, unlike with other countries that were part of the reconciliation agreement.

Media attacks between Bahrain and Qatar have continued even after the GCC summit, with the Qatar-based Al Jazeera and several Qatari newspapers publishing reports attacking Bahrain for its poor human rights record and labor conditions, while the Bahraini media attacked Qatari authorities, accusing them of obstinacy and unwillingness to reconcile with Bahrain.

On Monday, Bahrain invited Yemen to hold a bilateral dialogue to discuss outstanding issues between the two countries.

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