Lavrov urges direct talks, GCC unity amid Gulf crisis

Russian foreign minister meets Saudi counterpart in Jeddah and calls on Gulf countries to resolve differences.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has called for GCC unity [File: Mladen Antonov/AFP]

Arab countries involved in a diplomatic dispute with Qatar should enter into direct talks with Doha to solve the crisis, Russia’s foreign minister said on a trip to Saudi Arabia.

Speaking through an interpreter at a news conference on Sunday, Sergey Lavrov also called for the unity of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

“It’s for the benefit of everyone to bring back the unity of the GCC,” Lavrov told reporters in Jeddah. “This is important in sorting out the region’s problems.”

He added that Russia supported mediation efforts by Kuwait and attempts by the United States to resolve the crisis.

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“We need to bring stability in the Middle East and North Africa,” Lavrov said. “We are keen to sort out this problem, and we need to support mediation efforts. We need to maintain the unity of the GCC.”

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt severed ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of supporting “terrorist” groups – a charge it denies.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told the news conference that Qatar needed to show seriousness in finding a solution to the crisis.

“Qatar knows what Qatar has to do. We need things to be clarified and matters to be serious in order to find a solution,” Jubeir said.

He also repeated the kingdom’s demand that Qatar stops supporting “terrorism” and interfering “in other people’s affairs”.

“We will continue in this direction until Qatar responds to the will of the international community and stops supporting terrorism,” Jubeir said.

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The press conference in Jeddah came a day after Saudi suspended plans to hold talks with Qatar. 

Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman spoke by phone on Friday in the first official contact between Doha and Riyadh since the beginning of the crisis more than three months ago.

However, Saudi Press Agency later reported that Qatar’s state media had published a “distortion” of facts, and announced the suspension of the talks.

SPA did not clarify what was meant by “distortion”.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies