Qatari foreign minister urges de-escalation in US-Iran dispute

Sheikh Mohammed urges both sides to engage, ‘come up with ideas that open the doors’ and find a compromise.

Qatari Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, speaks during a news conference with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in Doha, Qatar February 11, 2019.
Sheikh Mohammed says: "It cannot be a solution like, sort of, imposed on the Palestinians - no country in the Arab world can accept that". [File:Naseem Zeitoon/Reuters]

Qatar and other countries have been talking to both Iran and the United States about de-escalation, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani has said, urging both sides to meet and find a compromise.

“We believe that at one point there should an engagement; it cannot last forever like this,” he told reporters in London on Sunday. “Since they are not willing to engage in further escalation, they should come up with ideas that open the doors.”

Sheikh Mohammed said several countries including Qatar, Oman, Iraq and Japan had been urging de-escalation with the two sides.

“All these countries are concerned what escalation could lead to,” he said. “There were attempts by Qatar and by other countries in the region to de-escalate the situation: we have been speaking to the US and we have been talking to the Iranians as well.”

“What we are trying to do is really to bridge the gap and create a conversation between the two parties as escalation is not going to benefit anyone in the region,” he said.

Tensions have risen between Iran and the US in recent weeks after Washington reimposed economic sanctions on Iran after pulling out of a big-power nuclear deal, and sending forces to the Middle East in a show of force to counter what US officials called Iranian threats to US troops and interests.

Kushner plan

Sheikh Mohammed also commented on the US-Middle East peace plan, saying Doha would accept any plan that is acceptable to the Palestinians, warning that any US-led solution could not be imposed on Palestinians.

The US is sponsoring a conference in Bahrain in late June, where the economic component of the plan is expected to be revealed, with political aspects of the plan to be unveiled later this year. But the Palestinians, who cut off ties with the US in 2017, have already rejected the US diplomatic effort as biased in favour of Israel.

“As far as we see, right now there is a disconnect between the Palestinians and the US,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

“Our position remains very firm: we are going to support any plan that the Palestinians are willing to accept.”

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, who has been trying to put together the plan, said in an interview broadcast last week that the Palestinians deserve “self-determination”, but stopped short of backing Palestinian statehood and expressed uncertainty over their ability to govern themselves.

While its precise outlines have yet to be revealed, Palestinian and Arab sources who have been briefed on the draft plan told Reuters news agency that Kushner has jettisoned the two-state solution – the long-standing US and international formula that envisages an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza.

“It cannot be a solution like, sort of, imposed on the Palestinians – no country in the Arab world can accept that,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

“If the plan is rejected by one of the parties it means the plan is either unfair or just not realistic,” he said.

He praised the economic part of the Kushner plan as being “wonderful” but said it needed a sound political foundation.

Source: News Agencies