Qatar Confirms 'There Are Some Movements' on Resolving Gulf Dispute After Kushner Visit

'We are hopeful that things will move in the right direction right now,' Qatari foreign minister says amid reports of breakthrough in talks to end three-year boycott

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Qatari Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani is seen during talks between the Afghan government and Taliban insurgents in Doha, Qatar, September 12, 2020.
Qatari Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani is seen during talks between the Afghan government and Taliban insurgents in Doha, Qatar, September 12, 2020.Credit: Ibraheem al Omari/Reuters

Qatar's foreign minister said on Friday that there has been movement on resolving a bitter diplomatic dispute among the Gulf countries but that he could not predict whether a breakthrough was imminent or would fully resolve the matter.

The United States and Kuwait have been working to end a row that has seen Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt sever diplomatic, trade and travel ties with Qatar since mid-2017. Washington says it wants a united Gulf front against Iran.

Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani's comments to an Italian diplomatic conference come after White House senior adviser Jared Kushner held talks in Doha on Wednesday following a visit to Saudi Arabia.

"Right now there are some movements that we hope will put an end to this crisis," said Sheikh Mohammed, speaking via video-link. "We are hopeful that things will move in the right direction right now. We cannot predict whether it will be imminent or resolve the issue in one day."

The other four nations accuse Doha of supporting terrorism and cosying up to Iran. Qatar, which hosts the region's largest U.S. military base, denies the charges and says the boycott is aimed at undermining its sovereignty.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (left), senior U.S. advisor Jared Kushner (center) and Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.Credit: AFP

The foreign minister of Kuwait also said later on Friday that progress had been made. "Fruitful discussion have taken place recently in which all sides expressed their keenness ... to reach a final agreement," Sheikh Ahmad Nasser al-Sabah said in a statement read out on Kuwait TV, thanking Kushner for his "recent efforts".

Qatar's Al Jazeera reported on Wednesday it was "close to striking a preliminary agreement" with Saudi Arabia, which gave Qatar a list of 13 demands for reestablishing ties, including cutting links to Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood, closing down Al Jazeera and shutting a Turkish military base.

According to a report from Bloomberg News, which cited sources with knowledge of the agreement, the Saudi-Qatar deal involves a detailed plan for restoring ties, which is likely to include a reopening of the long-blockaded land and air borders, as well as an end to the information war being waged by the two states.      

The Bloomberg report adds that the latest rapprochement effort does not include UAE, Bahrain or Egypt. One source said that until Qatar’s relationship with Iran is resolved, its realignment with other regional states is far off.

In February, similar talks between Saudi Arabia and Qatar broke down soon after they began a few months prior. Qatar had stressed the restoration of freedom of its citizens to travel to the nations boycotting it, as well as reopening its land border with Saudi Arabia.

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