The Financial Express

Qatar signals progress on resolving Gulf dispute

| Updated: December 06, 2020 16:58:27

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Qatar signals progress on resolving Gulf dispute

Qatar’s foreign minister has said there has been movement on resolving the diplomatic dispute that has pitted the Gulf neighbours against each other but he could not predict whether a breakthrough was imminent or would fully resolve the matter.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt imposed a diplomatic, trade and travel boycott on Qatar in June 2017, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism and having ties with Iran that were deemed too close, report Reuters and Al Jazeera.

Qatar has repeatedly rejected the accusations as baseless while highlighting its readiness for dialogue.

 “Right now, there is a movement that we hope will put an end to this crisis,” Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, also deputy prime minister, said on Friday.

 “We believe the end of the crisis is important for the security of the region and for sake of our people. This crisis needs to end based on mutual respect and the rights of all people of the Gulf.

 “Qatar is not differentiating between any of the countries. We hope things will move in the right direction but we cannot yet predict if it will be imminent and if it will be resolved in one day.”

As the price for lifting the blockade, the four nations set a 13-point ultimatum for Qatar, which included shutting down the Al Jazeera Media Network.

 “There is no country that is in a position to place demands on the other. There are differences that need to be overcome,” said Al-Thani.

 “If there are any disagreements, there must be a discussion to resolve them. We need to build our relationship based on mutual respect of sovereignty,” he added.

There has been speculation that a potential resolution may only include some of the blockading countries, but Qatar’s foreign minister confirmed that was not the case.

 “The Kuwait mediation is being carried out between Qatar and the four countries. Any resolution should be a holistic resolution,” he said.

 “It will take time to heal the wounds even if the crisis comes to an end, a deal will involve all countries not just one [Saudi Arabia. We have been trying to engage with all people and Gulf unity will be at the end of this,” said Qatar’s foreign minister.

He added that there were several previous attempts to resolve this conflict through Kuwaiti and US mediation, explaining “certain progress” had been achieved more than a year ago.

Earlier this week, sources said that Qatar and Saudi Arabia are close to striking a preliminary agreement to end the dispute.

The expected deal comes after United States President Donald Trump’s adviser Jared Kushner arrived in the Gulf region as part of a last-ditch effort to resolve the Gulf crisis before the Trump administration leaves office in January.

Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nasser al-Sabah said on Friday there have been “constructive and fruitful discussions” on efforts to achieve reconciliation in the Gulf crisis but stopped short of announcing any breakthrough in the dispute.

 “Fruitful discussions have taken place recently in which all sides expressed their keenness … to reach a final agreement,” al-Sabah said in a statement read out on Kuwait TV, thanking Kushner for his “recent efforts”.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister has expressed optimism that the three-year boycott of Qatar by four Arab nations, including the kingdom, may be nearing an end.

 “We’ve made significant progress in the last few days,” Prince Faisal bin Farhan said, speaking to Italy’s annual Mediterranean Dialogues on Friday.

 “We hope that this progress can lead to a final agreement which looks in reach, and I can say that I am somewhat optimistic that we are close to finalising an agreement between all the nations in the dispute to come to a resolution that we think will be satisfactory to all,” the prince said.

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