Qatar sees ‘small progress’ in resolving Gulf dispute

Qatar’s foreign minister said there has been ‘progress’ in ending Gulf crisis following bloc’s summit last week.

Munich Security Conference
Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani says 'a little progress' has been made over the Gulf blockade [Andreas Gebert/Reuters]

Some progress has been made in resolving a bitter dispute between Qatar and its neighbours, the Gulf state’s foreign minister said, just days after its prime minister visited Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic and trade links with Qatar in June 2017, accusing it of backing “terrorism”. Doha has consistently denied the charge and accused its neighbours of seeking to curtail its sovereignty.

Asked whether there was progress at the meeting of regional leaders, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told Reuters News Agency at the Doha Forum in Qatar there had been “small progress, just a little progress”.

Earlier this month, Sheikh Mohammed said that following talks with Saudi Arabia about the diplomatic crisis, the parties had “moved from a stalemate“.

He added that several meetings had taken place between officials of both countries in different places, refusing to confirm reports he recently visited the Saudi capital, Riyadh, for talks.

Last Tuesday, Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser Al Thani attended an annual Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit held in Riyadh, its highest representation at the meeting since 2017.

The closed-door gathering lasted less than an hour before a final communique by the six-member bloc emphasised the need to increase military and security cooperation to maintain regional cooperation.

However, there was no public mention of the two-and-a-half-year dispute at the summit.

The dispute has shattered the GCC alliance, a bloc of Arab monarchies in the Gulf that has close ties with the United States, including hosting American military bases.

Qatari Finance Minister Ali Sherif al-Emadi said the world’s biggest liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter remains “a big believer of the GCC”.

The United States and Kuwait have tried to mediate the dispute that has undermined Washington’s efforts to form a united front against Iran, which is locked in a struggle for regional supremacy with Saudi Arabia.

“We hope they can work out their issues amongst them because I do think there are bigger regional security issues that everyone needs to be unified on,” said US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Speaking alongside the Qatari finance minister, Mnuchin praised Qatari efforts at combating illicit financing of terrorism.

“I think they have made an enormous effort in this region on this issue,” he said at the Doha Forum.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies