A South Sudanese official has denied media reports of an alleged diplomatic row with Qatar, amid unconfirmed reports that the East African nation was reviving relations with Egypt and other Gulf states.
“There is nothing like that. Our relations with Qatar are on the basis of mutual benefits just like we do with other countries in the world and with which we do not have any problem. We enjoy strong political and economic relations with all countries with which we have established diplomatic relations”, South Sudan’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Deng Alor Kuol reportedly said.
There were unconfirmed reports saying that Juba decided to back the decision by three Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia, Barbarian and UAE as well as Egypt to severe diplomatic ties with Qatar and to impose an economic embargo on the tiny state.
Kuol said he was unaware of any diplomatic row between South Sudan and Qatar before, during and when he was removed from serving the government in 2013.
A former cabinet affairs minister, Kuol was removed by South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir in a cabinet reshuffle but returned in 2016 as part of the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU).
The foreign affairs minister said he is aware the two nations signed a special agreement to establish a team specifically tasked with strengthening bilateral trade ties.
In March 2012, following a difference with Khartoum over oil fees and the shutdown of oil production, Juba received a 100-million dollar loan from the Qatar National Bank (QNB).
Qatar was one of the nations that recognised South Sudan’s independence in 2011.
Over the past two decades, however, Qatar has grown its international profile and punched above its weight in international affairs and is currently a member of numerous international organisations and maintains bilateral relations around the globe.