Qatar cri­sis grinds on af­ter US fails to bro­ker res­o­lu­tion

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

DUBAI, United Arab Emi­rates — The United States’ top diplo­mat con­cluded a week of shut­tle diplo­macy in the Per­sian Gulf cri­sis on Thurs­day, bear­ing no promise of a break­through but voic­ing op­ti­mism that Qatar and its four Arab neigh­bors might soon at least be will­ing to talk face to face.

US Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son trav­eled to Qatar for a sec­ond time for a lunch meet­ing with 37-year-old Emir Tamim bin Ha­mad Al Thani, fol­low­ing talks ear­lier in the week in Kuwait and Saudi Ara­bia. As he flew back to Wash­ing­ton, Tiller­son told re­porters that the dis­cus­sions had been “help­ful” and that the US planned to keep at it.

“In my view, there’s a changed sense of will­ing­ness to at least be open to talk­ing to one an­other, and that was not the case be­fore I came,” Tiller­son said.

It was a far cry from a US-bro­kered res­o­lu­tion to the cri­sis that has now spanned more than a month, and no meet­ing of the feud­ing na­tions has yet been an­nounced. But Tiller­son’s aides had said ahead of time they didn’t ex­pect a quick so­lu­tion from his four-day trip.

Tiller­son, a for­mer Exxon Mo­bil CEO with deep ex­pe­ri­ence in the oil-rich Gulf, has been shut­tling be­tween Qatar, Saudi Ara­bia and me­di­a­tor Kuwait since Mon­day try­ing to re­pair a rift that is di­vid­ing some of Wash­ing­ton’s most im­por­tant Mid­dle East al­lies. Ahead of the trip, the US said the cri­sis was at an “im­passe”, but on Thurs­day the State Depart­ment said that was no longer the case.

Tiller­son’s clear­est achieve­ment was to se­cure a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing with Qatar to strengthen its coun­tert­er­ror­ism ef­forts and ad­dress short­falls in polic­ing ter­ror­ism fund­ing. That deal goes to the core of the quar­tet’s com­plaints against Doha: that it pro­vides sup­port for ex­trem­ist groups.

Qatar ve­he­mently de­nies the al­le­ga­tion.

Saudi Ara­bia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emi­rates said that the pres­sure and de­mands it had placed on Qatar helped lead

We are headed for a long es­trange­ment ... we are very far from a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion.”

An­war al-Gar­gash, UAE for­eign min­is­ter

to the coun­tert­er­ror­ism pact, but it said the agree­ment does not go far enough to end the dis­pute.

The UAE Min­is­ter of State for For­eign Af­fairs said on Fri­day that there will be no quick end to the row.

“We are headed for a long es­trange­ment ... we are very far from a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion in­volv­ing a change in Qatar’s course, and in light of that noth­ing will change and we have to look for a dif­fer­ent for­mat of re­la­tions,” An­war al-Gar­gash said.

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