On Friday, Kuwait foreign minister said progress had been made towards ending a Gulf row that for more than three years had seen Saudi Arabia and its allies boycott Qatar, while his Qatari counterpart expressed hope that a settlement could be found.
After Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic, trade and travel relations with Qatar in the middle of 2017, the United States and Kuwait worked to end the conflict. Washington says that it needs a united front in the Gulf against Iran.
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In a statement read on Kuwait TV, Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nasser al-Sabah said: “Recently, fruitful discussions have taken place in which all sides have expressed their keenness for Gulf and Arab unity and stability, and to reach a final agreement that realises lasting solidarity.”
He also praised the recent efforts of White House senior advisor Jared Kushner, who after a visit to Saudi Arabia, held talks in Doha on Wednesday.
Reuters was told by a Gulf source familiar with the matter that it was crucial that all parties decided to step forward with negotiations.
“Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Qatar’s Foreign Minister, welcomed the Kuwaiti announcement in a Twitter post as an imperative move” to resolve the rift.
Earlier on Friday, he had said that there was progress, but that he could not foresee whether a breakthrough was imminent or would solve the matter entirely.
We are optimistic that, right now things will shift in the right direction. “We can not predict whether the problem will be imminent or resolved in one day,” he told the online conference “Mediterranean Dialogues,” speaking via videolink.4
After Kuwait declared progress towards ending a row that Washington says hampers a united Gulf front against Iran, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said a resolution to a bitter dispute with Qatar appeared ‘within reach’.
“Thanks to Kuwait’s ongoing efforts, but also thanks to strong support from US] President [Donald Trump, we have made significant progress in recent days,” Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud told a conference in Rome via video connection.
“We hope that this progress can lead to a final agreement that looks within reach and I can say that I am somewhat optimistic that we are close to finalising an agreement between all the nations in the dispute.”
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif of Iran, meanwhile, welcomed understandings in the Gulf.
“We welcome the understandings announced by Kuwait in the Persian Gulf,” tweeted Zarif, whose country has strong ties to Qatar. “We hope that reconciliation will contribute to the stability and economic and political development of all the people of our region.”
We welcome understandings in the Persian Gulf announced by Kuwait.
Iran's longstanding policy is diplomacy, good neighborly relations & regional dialogue.
We hope reconciliation contributes to stability and political & economic development for all peoples of our region.#HOPE
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) December 4, 2020
Doha is suspected by the other four nations of promoting terrorism. Qatar, which hosts the largest US military base in the country, rejects the allegations and insists that the boycott is aimed at weakening its sovereignty.
As a first step to resolving the crisis, Washington has been pressing countries to reopen Gulf airspace for Qatari aircraft, diplomats and sources have said.
The Qatari minister said it should be “holistic” and focused on mutual respect, asking whether a resolution will be bilateral or include all the Gulf states.
No country, whether from Qatar or from the Quartet, is in a position to enforce any demands on another country […] Each country should determine its foreign policy, he added.
Thirteen requests were made by the four countries for Qatar, from the closure of Al Jazeera television and the shutting down of the Turkish base to the breaking of relations with the Muslim Brotherhood and the degradation of ties with Iran, which shares with Qatar a giant gas field.