*Meetings planned for March & April
*GCC summit expected later this year
Senior Qatari , Saudi and Emirati leaders will meet with US President Donald Trump in the next couple of months, US officials said, amid efforts by Washington to try to resolve a dispute between the Gulf neighbors.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar's Emir His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani are all planning to have bilateral visits with Trump in March and April, a senior US official said.
The agenda will include setting up a Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) summit, the official said, which Washington hopes will be held later this year, as well as Middle East peace and Iran.
The UAE, along with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt, cut off travel and trade ties with Qatar last June, accusing it of supporting terrorism and Iran. Doha denies the charges and says the countries aim to curtail its sovereignty. The quartet has also imposed a blockade on Qatar, affecting thousands of GCC citizens, who have family members spread across the member states.
Washington is hoping to lay the groundwork for a summit by the summer.
"We would hope the dispute is resolved before the summit to allow maximum focus on other strategic concerns like Iran," another US official said.
Qatar is host to US and international forces at Al Udeid Air Base, which is home to the Combined Air Operations Center. The centre co-ordinates an array of data and intelligence from satellites, drones, radar and US planes flying over hot spots in the Middle East and bombing Islamic State positions.
The Saudi-led bloc has issued a list of 13 demands for Qatar as a requirement for re-establishing diplomatic relations, though Doha has largely refused the demands.
Among the demands are Qatar shut down the Al Jazeera network, close a Turkish military base and scale down ties with Iran.
The dispute has put the US in an awkward position, because it relies on Gulf states as key allies in the coalition to combat Islamic State militants in the region.
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