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UAE restores postal service to Qatar despite protracted dispute

DUBAI (Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates has resumed postal services to Qatar nearly three years after they were suspended due to a Gulf Arab political dispute.

The move followed a meeting of parties involved in the dispute with the United Nations postal agency.

Indirect services began on Feb. 9 with mail transported via Oman, according to a notice from state-run Emirates Post sent to other postal firms and seen by Reuters. It was not immediately clear why the service had been restored amid the protracted row.

The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt have since June 2017 imposed a political, trade and transport boycott on Qatar over charges it supports terrorism, a catch-all word denoting Islamist militants. Doha denies the charges, saying the embargo aims to curtail its sovereignty.

The UAE government media office and the foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a Reuters’ request for comment on the restoration of postal services.

The move came after the U.N. Universal Postal Union held a meeting with postal representatives from Qatar and the four boycotting nations at UPU headquarters in Switzerland on Jan. 29 to discuss how to improve ties, a UPU spokesman said.

“UPU finds it very positive that there was an agreement to discuss these issues and the discussions were a positive development and a step in the right direction,” he said.

Post still cannot be sent to Qatar from Egypt or Saudi Arabia, according to customer service phone-lines run by those countries. Bahrain Post did not respond to a request for comment.

An Emirates Post employee confirmed services had resumed but said mail could only be sent between post offices in the two countries. Emirates Post and Qatari authorities could not immediately be reached for official comment.

Reporting by Alexander Cornwell and Lisa Barrington; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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