Qatari-Bahrani relations are on their way to normalization, though issues of dispute between the two Gulf states are not settled yet.
Bahrain's Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, who traveled to Doha on Monday to co-chair a joint committee meeting, told MBC he was optimistic at the outcome of the meeting with his counterpart Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani.
On the border dispute between the two countries, Salman said the case is before the International Court of Justice and talking about the issue may affect the court proceedings.
Qatar Airways started flights to Bahrain on Monday, as part of normalization process, the official news agency GNA said.
Qatar's transportation and communications minister, Sheikh Ahmad bin Nasser al-Thani, was on the first flight and greeted on landing in Manama by his Bahraini counterpart, Sheikh Ali bin Khalifa al-Khalifa.
Sheikh Ali said the Qatar Airways flights on the busy route Manama-Doha route would ease travel by nationals of both countries and boost tourism and trade.
Qatar Airways will make 15 weekly return flights, later to be increased to 17. Bahrain does not have its own carrier but is partners with Qatar, Oman and the Abu Dhabi government in another regional carrier, Gulf Air.
Following a landmark visit to Bahrain by Qatar's emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani in December, the two countries agreed to start the flights and to exchange ambassadors for the first time. The exchange took place on April 17.
Their border dispute centers on Doha's claim to the Hawar islands and Fasht al-Dibel rocks, which are potentially rich in oil and gas reserves, but held by Bahrain since the 1930s, and Manama's claim to Zubara on Qatar's coast.
Qatar took the dispute to the World Court in The Hague in 1991. The two neighbors have agreed to withdraw their dispute from the World Court if they reached a settlement before the UN body starts to hear their cases on May 29 – (Several Sources)
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