Gulf crisis: Qatar FM meets UN Security Council members

Foreign minister asks non-permanent members of UN Security Council to call for an end of the blockade on Qatar.

Qatar’s foreign minister has asked members of the United Nations Security Council to urge a Saudi-led bloc of states to lift their blockade on the Gulf country, nearly one month after it began.

Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani on Friday met non-permanent members of the Security Council at the Qatari mission to the UN in the US state of New York, urging them to speak out publicly on his country’s behalf.

Al Thani told Al Jazeera he gave them “updates on the situation” and urged “all of them to call for a lifting of the blockade on Qatar”.

Qatar was “trying to encourage all the parties to enter a serious dialogue to try to put an end to this”, the foreign minister said.

The meeting took place one day after Al Thani’s visit to Washington, DC, “where US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson promised to try to help resolve the Gulf crisis”, Al Jazeera’s Kristen Saloomey, reporting from New York, said. 

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar on June 5 over allegations that it supports “extremism” and is too close to Iran – charges Doha has repeatedly denied.

After more than two weeks, the four Arab countries gave Doha a 10-day ultimatum to comply with a 13-point list of demands in exchange for the end of the anti-Qatar measures.

READ MORE: Qatar-Gulf crisis: All the latest updates

The demands include that Qatar shut down the Al Jazeera Media Network, close a Turkish military base, scale down ties with Iran, and pay an unspecified sum in reparations.

Egypt, a non-permanent member of the Security Council through the end of this year, did not attend the meeting with Al Thani in New York. 

The Qatari foreign minister was set to return to Doha after the meeting, where “his country will continue to press its case with a number of different organisation, like the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Maritime Organization, and the human rights council in Geneva,” Al Jazeera’s Saloumi said.

“But no formal action is expected here in the Security Council.”

Airspace blockade

Meanwhile, Qatar’s transport minister has met twice this past week with the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) at its headquarters in Montreal, Canada, asking it to intervene in the crisis. 

For nearly a month, many Qatar Airways flights to and from Doha have had to make huge detours, due to the airspace blockade by the Saudi-led bloc of states.

It has been costly to the airline, disruptive to passengers and, according to the Qataris, dangerous to passengers and illegal under international law.

“Really, it’s not a political issue, we are talking here about a technical issue, which means safety and security of the aviation,” Qatar’s Minister of Transport and Communications, Jassim Saif Al Sulaiti, told Al Jazeera.

“I don’t mean just Qatar Airways, but all the international [airlines].”

Al Jazeera’s Daniel Lak, reporting from Montreal, said it was a challenging case for an agency that is “highly technical and known to be publicity shy”.

The ICAO works on regulation, flight routeing and other issues that may not obvious to most travellers, but keep the world’s airlines and airspace running as smoothly as possible.

“The situation comes as Qatar Airways has been growing exponentially with profits soaring more than 20 percent this year,” Al Jazeera’s Lak said.

“It’s one of the world’s leading long-haul airlines and has ambitious plans to buy more planes and fly to more places.”

It recently celebrated its 10th anniversary of flights into New York by lighting the Empire State Building in the airline’s colours. And just last month it announced it wanted to buy 10 percent of American Airlines.

“While a negotiated solution to this Gulf crisis seems stalled, Qatar believes its best hope for an end to this air blockade at least might be the technical, safety and security arguments it’s advancing at the International Civil Aviation Organization,” said Lak.

Source: Al Jazeera