RIYADH - Gulf leaders and representatives will meet for an annual summit in Saudi Arabia next week amid an ongoing diplomatic dispute in the region.

The 40th Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit is scheduled to take place in Riyadh on December 10, the six-nation body announced late on Sunday.

"Their Majesties and Highnesses will discuss several important political, defence, economic and social issues to reinforce the progress of the GCC and integration
among the GCC members," the GCC secretary-general, Abdulateef bin Rashid Al Zayani, said in a statement.

"They will also review regional and international political developments as well as the security situation in the region and its effects on the security and stability of the
GCC countries," he added.

The meeting had been scheduled to be held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE); GCC officials did not say why they decided to move the event to Saudi Arabia.

The GCC is a bloc composed of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Since June 2017, the bloc has been fractured by a blockade imposed by Bahrain, Egypt, the UAE and Saudi Arabia on Qatar over accusations of "supporting
terrorism", a charge repeatedly and vehemently rejected by Doha.

Recently, however, teams from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain travelled to Qatar for the 2019 Arabian Gulf Cup football tournament.

There were also reports of Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani making an unannounced visit to the Saudi capital last month.

Last year's GCC summit, also held in Riyadh, ended without any breakthroughs to resolve the diplomatic crisis.(FA)