EU, Turkey try to defuse Qatar cri­sis

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

KUWAIT CITY — The Euro­pean Union’s for­eign af­fairs chief and Turkey’s pres­i­dent have been vis­it­ing the Gulf coun­tries as part of the most re­cent in­ter­na­tional ef­fort to heal the diplo­matic rift be­tween Qatar and a group of four na­tions led by Saudi Ara­bia.

Fed­er­ica Mogherini pledged the EU’s sup­port for ef­forts to re­solve the cri­sis at a meet­ing with Kuwaiti For­eign Min­is­ter Sabah Khaled al-Sabah on Sun­day.

The cri­sis should be re­solved through di­a­logue and with­out de­lay, Mogherini said in a state­ment re­leased af­ter the meet­ing, urg­ing all par­ties to en­ter into ne­go­ti­a­tions to ham­mer out a plan for a swift res­o­lu­tion.

On June 5, Saudi Ara­bia, the United Arab Emi­rates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplo­matic ties with Qatar, ac­cus­ing it of in­ter­fer­ing in their in­ter­nal af­fairs and sup­port­ing ter­ror­ism. They have also im­posed an eco­nomic block­ade on the coun­try.

The four ini­tially put for­ward a list of 13 de­mands to Qatar, de­mand­ing it close the pan-Arab TV net­work Al-Jazeera, down­grade diplo­matic ties with Iran and stop fi­nanc­ing ex­trem­ist groups.

Qatar has re­jected the de­mands and de­nied sup­port­ing ex­trem­ists.

Also on Sun­day, Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan met with Saudi Ara­bia’s King Sal­man bin Ab­du­laziz.

Er­do­gan is the fifth high­level of­fi­cial to try to me­di­ate an end to the dis­pute. Top diplo­mats from the United King­dom, France, Ger­many and the United States have all vis­ited the re­gion, un­der­scor­ing the depth of con­cern they have over the cri­sis.

Er­do­gan’s tour will also take him to Qatar and Kuwait. Turkey has pub­licly sided with Qatar, with which it has deep eco­nomic and se­cu­rity ties, while crit­i­ciz­ing the block­ade as “in­hu­mane”.

Be­fore leav­ing for the re­gion, Er­do­gan told re­porters in Is­tanbul that Turkey was seek­ing an im­me­di­ate res­o­lu­tion to the dis­pute.

“No­body has any in­ter­est in pro­long­ing this cri­sis any­more,” he said.

One of the de­mands put for­ward by the four coun­tries is the clo­sure of a Turk­ish mil­i­tary base in Qatar. Turkey has de­ployed a num­ber of troops in the base re­cently in a move aimed at bol­ster­ing Qatar’s de­fi­ance in the face of sanc­tions.

Ankara has re­fused to with­draw the troops, a move that has frus­trated the four coun­tries.

Signs of eas­ing

Signs of an eas­ing of the cri­sis emerged af­ter a re­cent visit by US Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son, dur­ing which the US and Qatar signed a deal on com­bat­ing ter­ror fund­ing.

The agree­ment ad­dressed one of the key de­mands by the four coun­tries, who have ac­cused Doha of fi­nanc­ing a num­ber of ex­trem­ist groups, in­clud­ing the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood in Egypt, the Ha­mas move­ment in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Le­banon.

Last week, Qatar re­vised its law on fight­ing ter­ror­ism, a move that was wel­comed by the UAE as a “pos­i­tive step”.

Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Ha­mad al-Thani said on Fri­day that his coun­try is pre­pared to en­gage in a di­a­logue, pro­vided that Doha’s sovereignty is re­spected.

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