Qatar: Ending blockade should precede dialogue

Qatar’s defence minister warns of legal action if the four Arab nations do not end siege that is in its second month.

UpFront - Al-Attiyah
Al-Attiyah said if the siege is not lifted, Qatar will be compelled to resort to available international legal procedures [EPA]

The blockade imposed on Qatar by four Arab states must be lifted before the country can engage into a dialogue, Qatar’s Defence Minister Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah said.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt cut ties with Qatar, accusing it of interfering in their affairs and supporting “terrorism”.

Foreign diplomats have visited the region, urging dialogue to resolve the crisis that is now in its second month. However, the al-Attiyah said “lifting the siege should precede any dialogue”.

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

“If the blockading countries remain reluctant to lift the siege, Qatar will be compelled to resort to the available international legal procedures to lift it,” al-Attiyah said in an interview with Russia Today, excerpts of which was published by Qatar’s official news agency on Tuesday.

The Qatari minister ruled out the relocation of the Al-Udeid US military base from his country.

“The US-Qatari relations are strong,” he said, going on to deny that the “acceleration of the deployment of Turkish troops in Qatar was in anticipation of any military escalation against Doha”.

“The Turkish and US military presence in Qatar doesn’t pose any kind of sensitivity at all,” he said, arguing that the Saudi-led group has relied in its escalation on US President Donald Trump’s tweets.

“They forgot that the US is a country of institutions, most of which is the department of state, which has explicitly supported the Qatari’s position,” he said.

READ MORE: ‘No justification’ for cutting diplomatic ties

On Tuesday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan described his trip to the Gulf “productive and successful”, following two days of talks that appeared to yield no immediate progress towards healing the rift.

“The visits on the Gulf tour were productive and successful,” Erdogan told legislators from his ruling AK Party at a parliamentary meeting.

“The contacts we have made during this visit have been useful, and we will continue our efforts for the stability and peace of the region with increasing determination.”

Turkey has been Qatar’s most powerful ally in the dispute. 

INSIDE STORY: Will the call be heeded for direct talks to end the Gulf crisis?

Source: News Agencies