Qatar foreign minister flags movement on resolving Gulf row

Qatar foreign minister flags movement on resolving Gulf row

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Qatar’s foreign minister said on Friday there has been movement on resolving a bitter diplomatic dispute among the Gulf countries but he could not predict whether a breakthrough was imminent or would fully resolve the matter.

The United States and Kuwait have worked to end a row after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic, trade and travel ties with Qatar since mid-2017. Washington says it wants a united Gulf front against Iran.

Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani’s comments to an Italian diplomatic conference come after White House senior adviser Jared Kushner held talks in Doha on Wednesday following a visit to Saudi Arabia.

“Right now there are some movements that we hope will put an end to this crisis,” Sheikh Mohammed, told the “Mediterranean Dialogues” online conference, speaking by videolink.

“We are hopeful that things will move in the right direction right now. We cannot predict whether it will be imminent or resolve the issue in one day.”

The other four nations accuse Doha of supporting terrorism. Qatar, which hosts the region’s largest U.S. military base, denies the charges and says the boycott aims to undermine its sovereignty.

Two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that an announcement could be made soon on an initial step towards resolving the dispute.

Qatar’s priority was to restore free movement of its citizens to the boycotting nations, access to their airspace and reopen its only land border shared with Saudi Arabia, diplomats and sources have said.

Asked if a resolution would be bilateral or include all the Gulf states, Sheikh Mohammed said it should be “holistic” and based on mutual respect.

“No country is in a position to impose any demands on another country, whether from Qatar or from the quartet … Each country should decide its foreign policy,” he added.

The four countries had set out 13 demands for Qatar, from closing Al Jazeera television and shuttering a Turkish base to cutting links to the Muslim Brotherhood and downgrading ties with Iran, which shares a giant gas field with Qatar.

 

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