Qatar is prepared to work together with other Gulf countries blockading it in order to reach a resolution to a major diplomatic crisis, its foreign minister has said, stressing, however, that his country will not discuss any measures that impinge on its sovereignty.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposed sanctions on it on June 5, accusing it of supporting “terrorism”. The allegation is rejected by Doha.
After more than two weeks, the four Arab countries gave Doha a 10-day ultimatum to comply with a 13-point demand list in exchange for the end of the anti-Qatar measures.
“The response of Qatar has been purposefully measured, yet unequivocal,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Qatar’s foreign minister, said on Thursday in Washington, DC, where he had been holding a series of key meetings aimed at defusing the crisis.
“We are willing to negotiate any legitimate grievances with our neighbours, but we will not compromise our sovereignty,” he said, calling the “siege” on Qatar “a clear act of aggression” that violated international law.
“These hostile actions were based on unsubstantiated claims and false assumptions. Evidence is yet to be presented.”
List of demands
The demands submitted by Saudi Arabia and its allies included that Qatar shut down the Al Jazeera network, close a Turkish military base and scale down ties with Iran.
In the list, the four Arab countries also demand that Doha sever all alleged ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and other groups, including Hezbollah, al-Qaeda and ISIL (also known as ISIS), and pay an unspecified sum in compensation for what they claimed to be “loss of life and other financial losses caused by Qatar’s policies”.
Speaking to reporters, the Qatari foreign minister reiterated Qatar’s position that the list was unreasonable, describing it as an “effort to undermine our foreign policy and national sovereignty”.
“He was pretty clear that these demands are unacceptable and that Qatar couldn’t do these things, even if it wanted to,” Al Jazeera’s James Bays, reporting from Washington, DC, said.
The Qatari foreign minister also hit back at comments made by his Saudi counterpart, Adel al-Jubeir, who on Tuesday said that there will be no negotiations over the list of demands.
“Using the terminologies of demands and non-negotiable, I don’t think this is a civilised way to engage in solving a crisis,” Mohammed bin Abdulrahman said.
His comments came at the end of a trip over several days to Washington, where he met key leaders, including US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, to discuss the crisis.
Al Jazeera’s Bays said that despite the high-level meetings and mediation efforts there has been so far “no breakthrough to this crisis that has almost lasted” for a month.
“The deadline from the countries which are attempting to blockade Qatar is next week,” he added. Also next week is an important meeting of the G20 countries. At that summit, Saudi Arabia, a G20 member, will be represented, but Qatar will not.”