Khaleej Times

Tillerson urges Arab states to resolve Qatar dispute


washington — US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Sunday that Qatar and the four Arab states should sit down together in order to try to reach a resolution.

“A productive next step would be for each of the countries to sit together and continue this conversati­on,” Tillerson said in a statement. “We believe our allies and partners are stronger when they are working together towards one goal which we all agree is stopping terrorism and countering extremism.”

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have sent a 13-point list of demands aimed at dismantlin­g Qatar’s two-decade-old interventi­onist foreign policy which has incensed them. Kuwait is helping mediate the dispute.

“A lowering of rhetoric would also help ease the tension,” Tillerson said, adding that the United States will remain in close contact with all the countries involved.

a productive next step would be for each of the countries to sit together and continue this conversati­on

Rex Tillerson, US Secretary of State

He says the US is supporting Kuwait’s efforts to mediate. Rex Tillerson insisted this week that Saudi Arabia spell out exactly what Qatar must do to end the diplomatic and economic isolation.

Tillerson said Qatar was assessing the demands and stressed there were “significan­t areas which provide a basis for ongoing dialogue leading to resolution”.

After the demands were made on Friday, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the dispute was “a family issue” that the countries should work out together.

Tillerson’s efforts to encourage a resolution has been helped in recent days by President Donald Trump staying quiet after earlier comments undercut his secretary of state.

The Trump White House views the roster of demands as at least a starting point for further talks, according to an administra­tion official. The US will facilitate further talks — Tillerson has participat­ed in dozens of phone calls and meetings — but wants the countries involved to solve the crisis without direct American mediation, according to the official, who asked not to be identified discussing diplomatic initiative­s.

“We believe it is a family issue” among the Mideast neighbors, White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters on Friday. “This is something they want to, and should, work out for themselves.”

The four Arab government­s delivered the demands to Qatar through mediator Kuwait on Thursday, more than two weeks after severing all ties with the emirate and imposing an embargo.

The demands were offered as a basis of talks and not an ultimatum, according to an official..

Qatar’s main import routes — by land from Saudi Arabia and by sea from container ships docked in the UAE — have been disrupted, and much of the surroundin­g airspace has been closed to its air traffic. — AFP, Reuters, Bloomberg

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