Arab quartet ready for talks with Qatar
MANAMA, Bahrain — The Saudi Arabia-led Arab quartet have expressed preparedness for talks with Qatar, while insisting that Doha must meet their demands.
“We reiterate the importance of Qatar’s compliance with the 13 demands outlined by the four states,” said a joint statement released by the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt after a meeting on Sunday.
Speaking at a joint news conference, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa said the four countries are ready for dialogue with Qatar if it announces its “sincere willingness” to stop funding terrorism and extremism, halt interference in other countries’ foreign affairs, and respond to the 13 demands.
“We are ready to have a dialogue provided the 13 conditions are met by Qatar,” said Sheikh Khalid.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir said their demands “cannot be negotiated”, adding steps taken by his country along with the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt were “sovereign and within international accords”.
On the issue of Qatari hajj pilgrims, Al Jubeir said they are welcomed like pilgrims from any other country.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not accept politicization of the pilgrimage, which is a religious act,” he said. “We will welcome Qatari pilgrims like other Muslims.”
UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdulla bin Zayed Al Nahyan said all measures taken by four states were within international laws and “essential to deter the scourge of terrorism which affected stability of other countries”.
The Saudi-led bloc cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposed a blockade on the tiny rich Gulf nation on June 5, citing Doha’s support of terrorism and extremism, inter- fering in their internal affairs and seeking closer ties with Iran, a Saudi rival.
They presented in June a list of 13 demands to Qatar as preconditions for resuming diplomatic ties and ending their sanctions. The demands included Doha’s end to funding terrorism and extremism, stoping interference in their internal affairs and downgrading ties with Iran.
For its part, Qatar has strongly denied the charges, while rejecting the quartet’s demands, citing it would not negotiate on issues related to its sovereignty.