Gulf Arab rift has no effect on central bankers meet -Kuwait

KUWAIT, March 12 Wed Mar 12, 2014 8:58am EDT

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KUWAIT, March 12 (Reuters) - A diplomatic rift between Qatar and three other Gulf Arab countries had no effect on a meeting of Gulf central bank governors on Wednesday, the region's first high-level gathering since the dispute, host Kuwait said.

Last week Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain took the unprecedented step of recalling their ambassadors from Qatar in protest at what they see as Doha's political meddling in the Arab region.

Kuwait's central bank governor said the dispute had not marred relations between his counterparts from the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

"We are a technical committee and interested in technical things and we do not interfere in political issues," Mohammad al-Hashel said after the first session of the meeting with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman.

"Everyone was here and participated effectively in the meeting," he told reporters.

The governors sat together for breakfast and the Saudi and Qatari central bank governors walked out of the meeting together for lunch with no sign of the tension between their two countries.

Participants at the meeting discussed measures to prevent money laundering and terrorism financing as well as an agreement on debit card use in Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain, Hashel said.

The central bank governors of Qatar and Saudi Arabia declined to comment on the diplomatic rift in the U.S.-allied GCC which usually keeps internal tensions private.

Saudi Arabia is angry about Qatar's support for the Muslim Brotherhood and on Friday designated the group founded in Egypt some 80 years ago as a terrorist organisation.

Kuwait, home to an active community of political Islamists, has voiced disquiet about the withdrawal of the envoys and has offered to mediate while Oman has remained silent.

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