Putin warns Gulf crisis imperils Syria peace efforts

In a phone conversation with the Saudi king, the Russian leader cautioned against anti-Qatar measures.

FILE PHOTO: Russian President Putin meets with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defence Minister bin Salman at the Kremlin in Moscow
Putin met the Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman last month [File: Pavel Golovkin/Pool/Reuters]

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has warned in a phone conversation with the king of Saudi Arabia that the blockade against Qatar by its neighbours will make it harder to reach a peaceful end to the war in Syria.

The comment came in a statement issued by the Kremlin after the call on Tuesday, more than a week after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and closed their air, sea and land borders for the country, accusing it of supporting “extremists” and Iran, charges that Qatar calls “baseless”.

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Putin and King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud “touched on the aggravated situation around Qatar, which unfortunately does not help consolidate joint efforts in resolving the conflict in Syria and fighting the terrorist threat,” the Kremlin said.

Syrian conflict

Russia is involved in the Syrian conflict, providing military support to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.

Saudi Arabia and other Arab states support the rebels who want to see Assad removed from power.

The Syrian conflict started in 2011 with peaceful anti-government protests. More than 465,000 Syrians have been killed in the fighting and more than 12 million Syrians – half the country’s pre-war population – have been displaced from their homes.

On Tuesday, the Kremlin said Putin and Salman also discussed developing ties in various areas and expressed an intention to “activate bilateral cooperation”.

Late last month, Putin met the Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Russian capital of Moscow for talks on the Syrian conflict as well as cutting oil production.

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Source: News Agencies