French FM in bid to re­solve Qatar cri­sis

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

RIYADH, Saudi Ara­bia — French For­eign Min­is­ter Jean-Yves Le Drian ar­rived on Satur­day in Jed­dah, a ma­jor coastal city in Saudi Ara­bia, to help tackle the Qatar diplo­matic cri­sis.

In early June, Saudi Ara­bia, the United Arab Emi­rates, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with Qatar and moved to iso­late the small, but wealthy Gulf na­tion, can­cel­ing air routes between their cap­i­tals and Qatar’s and clos­ing their airspace to Qatari flights.

Saudi Ara­bia also sealed Qatar’s only land bor­der, im­pact­ing a key source of food im­ports in the mostly desert na­tion.

The four coun­tries also ex­pelled all Qatari na­tion­als, im­pact­ing mixed-na­tion­al­ity fam­i­lies in the Gulf, stu­dents and peo­ple seek­ing med­i­cal treat­ment abroad, among others. Prior to the dis­pute, Qataris could travel visa-free between the Gulf coun­tries.

“France is call­ing for these mea­sures to be lifted, es­pe­cially ones that af­fect the (Qatari) pop­u­la­tion, specif­i­cally mea­sures that im­pact bi-na­tional fam­i­lies that have been sep­a­rated,” Le Drian said.

Le Drian urged the four coun­tries to re­solve the on­go­ing cri­sis through di­a­logue.

Af­ter his visit to Riyadh, Le Drian will go to Kuwait and the UAE to at­tempt me­di­a­tion.

Saudi Ara­bian For­eign Min­is­ter Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir claimed he could pro­vide ev­i­dence that Qatar vi­o­lated the 2013 Riyadh Agree­ment and the 2014 Riyadh Sup­ple­men­tary Agree­ment, both of which aim to en­hance co­op­er­a­tion between Gulf na­tions and avoid in­ter­fer­ence in each other’s in­ter­nal af­fairs.

He also stressed that Qatar must im­ple­ment rel­e­vant anti-ter­ror­ism agree­ments.

The four Arab coun­tries cut ties with Qatar on June 5, ac­cus­ing it of sup­port­ing “ex­trem­ism and ter­ror­ism”, an al­le­ga­tion which Qatar has de­nied.

On June 23, the four Arab states is­sued a list of 13 de­mands to end the rift with Doha, in­clud­ing clos­ing Al-Ja- zeera tele­vi­sion and down­grad­ing diplo­matic ties with Iran. Since Qatar’s re­sponse seemed un­sat­is­fac­tory to them, the four have de­cided to main­tain their sanc­tions against Qatar.

With Qatar hold­ing firm to its po­si­tion, a top UAE diplo­mat cau­tioned that the diplo­matic stand­off could be pro­longed.

“We are head­ing to­ward a long es­trange­ment,” UAE Min­is­ter of State for For­eign Af­fairs An­war al-Gar­gash wrote on Twit­ter.

“The re­al­ity is we are far from a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion that changes Qatar’s course. In light of that, noth­ing will change and we must look to a dif­fer­ent mode in re­la­tions,” he added.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, French for­eign min­is­ter

KAZUHIRO NOGI / AFP

A bel­uga whale sprays wa­ter to­ward vis­i­tors dur­ing a sum­mer at­trac­tion at the Hakkei­jima Sea Par­adise aquar­ium in Yoko­hama, sub­ur­ban Tokyo, on Sun­day.

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