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Qatar tribune
Qatar's Prime Minister Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani will attend a Gulf summit in Mecca this weekend, one of the first high-level meetings with blockading nations since the embargo was imposed nearly two years ago.
A high-level source told Al Jazeera on Wednesday the face-to-face between Sheikh Abdullah and top officials from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and other countries will take place at the meeting starting on Thursday.
The summit is expected to focus on regional security issues amid soaring tension between Iran and the United States and its Gulf allies.
Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani received an invitation from Saudi King Salman to attend the emergency Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit earlier this week.
Sources familiar with the situation said Sheikh Tamim is unlikely to attend the three-day meeting.
"The fact that the Saudis contacted the Emir of Qatar directly suggests that the tension with Iran is taken very seriously in Riyadh. So the kingdom is ready to build a broader-than-usual consensus on how to deal with Iran," Andreas Krieg from King's College London told Al Jazeera. 
In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates cut off ties with Qatar and imposed a land, sea, and air blockade on the Gulf state. 
The quartet accuses Doha of supporting "terrorism" and proscribed opposition political movements, such as the Muslim Brotherhood.
Qatar has repeatedly rejected the accusations as baseless.
Some observers interpreted the invitation to Qatar's leaders as meaning the Saudi-led blockading countries may be backing down from their accusations against Doha.
But others said that remains to be seen. 
"I think it is too early to tell whether the decision to send the prime minister to the summits in Saudi Arabia signals a rapprochement of sorts in the Gulf blockade," Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, a Baker Institute fellow for the Middle East, told Al Jazeera.
But he added Prime Minister Abdullah's presence in Mecca could serve "as a confidence-building measure that can alleviate strains with Saudi Arabia".
The blockade coincided with the rise to power of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Qatar has pushed an independent foreign policy, while Saudi and the UAE have their own plans for the region.
Qatar has strengthened security relations with the US and Turkey and expanded diplomaticand trade ties with new partners and existing ones since the land, sea, and air embargo was imposed on June 5, 2017.
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