India on Wednesday welcomed the restoration of diplomatic ties between Qatar and four other Arab countries that had imposed an embargo on it in 2017, saying such a move would give a boost to peace and stability in the region.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhad said on Tuesday that Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had agreed to “fully set our differences aside” with Qatar at a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit at Al-Ula.

The four countries had cut ties with Qatar in 2017 and imposed a partial blockade, accusing the gas and oil-rich state of backing acts of terrorism. Qatar, which had angered the other states because of its close ties with Iran and the broadcasts of the Al-Jazeera news channel, had dismissed these allegations.

Following the restoration of full ties between the five countries, external affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said: “We were pleased to note the positive developments at the recently concluded GCC Summit in Al-Ula, Saudi Arabia. We welcome the reconciliation and rapprochement between countries in the region.

“India shares [an] excellent relationship with all the countries in the GCC, which is in our extended neighbourhood and we hope that such encouraging developments will further promote peace, progress and stability in the region.”

Srivastava added: “We will continue to work with GCC countries for the strengthening of our bilateral cooperation. We also look forward to enhance our institutional dialogue and partnership with the GCC.”

The GCC states are home to some nine million Indian expatriates, with a majority based in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The Indian government has worked hard to boost its relations with the Arab states, particularly in defence cooperation and energy security, and it has also welcomed the recent normalisation of ties between Israel and key Arab states such as the UAE.

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