DOHA, July 24, (Agencies): Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan on Monday both backed Kuwait’s mediation efforts to resolve Doha’s dispute with another three Gulf countries and Egypt.
Both leaders expressed the sentiments at talks in Doha aimed at discussing regional and international developments, particularly on efforts to resolve that feud through “dialogue and diplomacy,” Qatar’s state news agency, QNA, reported.
The meeting discussed joint efforts to combat terrorism and fundamentalism, in the light of efforts to limit the scourge that threatens the security of the region, through regional and international efforts.
The two sides also discussed defence, military, economic, commercial and investment strategic cooperation.
The international community have encouraged dialogue amongst the disputing parties, after Doha’s recent call to sit down on a negotiating table to iron out its differences with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt.
Several leading nations and international organisations have also expressed support of the ongoing mediation efforts pursued by Kuwait, led by His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.
Erdogan arrived in Doha on Monday as part of a Gulf tour aimed at defusing a dispute between Turkey’s ally Qatar and a bloc of Saudi-led Arab states.
Erdogan was greeted by Qatari ruler Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani ahead of their first face-to-face talks on the Gulf crisis, state news agency QNA reported.
The visit was focused on “developments in Syria and Iraq, the fight against terrorism … and the importance of protecting countries’ sovereign rights”, Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said in Doha.
Turkey has sided with Qatar in the crisis, the worst to hit the region since the 1981 establishment of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council.
On June 5, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain suspended diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar over allegations that Doha had too close ties with Iran and supported Islamist extremist groups.
Qatar has denied the allegations.
Erdogan held talks on Sunday in Kuwait, which is leading mediation efforts in the crisis, and Saudi Arabia, where King Salman hailed the Turkish leader’s “efforts in the fight against terrorism and its financing”.
Erdogan has voiced support for the mediation efforts of Kuwait, a possible indication that Ankara sees Kuwait as the key to resolving the crisis.
Qatar’s Amir said in an address to the nation on Friday that Doha was open to talks with the Saudi-led bloc on condition his country’s “sovereignty” was respected.
His call received a cold reception from the UAE’s state minister for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, who wanted Qatar to review its policies.
“Dialogue is necessary, but it should be based on a revision” of Qatar’s stance, he tweeted.
Qatar has emerged as Turkey’s top ally in the Middle East in recent years, with Ankara and Doha closely coordinating over issues including the Syria conflict where the two are staunch foes of President Bashar al-Assad.
Turkey is also setting up a military base in Qatar, its only such outpost in the region. It has expedited the process since the crisis began and reportedly now has 150 troops in the emirate.
France welcomes ‘dialogue’
France on Monday welcomed Qatar’s call for dialogue in order to resolve its dispute with another four Arab countries, considering this a “promising development.” A statement from the French Foreign Ministry underlined the recent efforts to resolve the dispute opposing several nations in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and also involving Egypt.
Paris said it “encourages all efforts to facilitate a rapid settlement of the differences which oppose Qatar with several of its partners in the Gulf Cooperation Council and Egypt,” it added.
The statement also indicated that France saw several statements by the parties as potentially positive.
Furthermore, France said it supports the ongoing mediation efforts in the Gulf crisis by His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and it encouraged the disputing parties to open a dialogue in light of the latest “promising developments.” “France supports the mediation of (His Highness) the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah,” the Foreign Ministry statement said.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian travelled to the region, including Kuwait, on July 15-16 to add his voice to mediation efforts to resolve the crisis.
France has several times praised the efforts of Kuwait to bring a satisfactory end to the Gulf crisis.
Statements by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt in New York on July 18 have also been “noted with interest” by the French authorities, the statement remarked.
‘Confidence’ in Kuwait
European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on Sunday affirmed that all international and regional parties voiced their confidence in Kuwait’s role in finding a political solution to the Gulf crisis.
This came in a statement to KUNA following her meeting with His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, and First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah.
She said the EU supports mediations efforts by His Highness the Amir aiming to resolve the crisis, adding that the meeting focused on bilateral relationships and cooperation fields.
They also discussed several topics like situations in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen, expressing her content for meeting with His Highness the Amir.
Kuwait’s Ambassador to Belgium, EU and Luxemburg Jassem Al-Budaiwi said the visit of Mogherini reflected the distinguished relations between Kuwait and the EU that were culminated in signing an agreement on common cooperation last year.
The deal covers security and political coordination, and cooperation in economy, energy and humanitarian action and others, he added.
He said the EU official voiced her appreciation to His Highness the Amir’s efforts seeking to heal the Gulf rift.
Meanwhile, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled and Mogherini discussed some points to promote cooperation in humanitarian and economic fields as well as energy, the ambassador said.
The two sides focused on coordinating efforts and unifying goals, he noted, revealing that there would be a meeting next September for this purpose.
He expressed his hope that the deal would be in favor of interest of the two sides, pointing out that the EU is a key destination for Kuwait’s investments.
Kuwait, supported by regional and international parties, have been mediating to solve the Gulf crisis between Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and Egypt on one side and Qatar on the other.
Russia ready to help mediate
Russia is ready to help mediate in the dispute between Qatar and Arab states if approached, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview released on Monday.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have cut ties and imposed sanctions on Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism. Doha denies the charges.
“We are interested in this crisis being overcome, taking into account mutual concerns and finding solutions which will be acceptable for all participants of this process,” Lavrov told Kurdish television channel Rudaw, according to a transcript of the interview published on the foreign ministry’s website.
“We support the mediating efforts which are being made by the Amir of Kuwait … If as part of those efforts or in addition to them all sides think that Russia could also do something useful, we will be ready to respond to such appeals,” Lavrov said, according to the transcript.
The Russian foreign minister also said that creating a Russian-US cybersecurity group was still relevant.
A Russian official who was at the recent G20 summit of global leaders in Hamburg said earlier that Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump had agreed to discuss cybersecurity questions, either via the United Nations or as part of a working group.
However US and European intelligence and security officials have said they are not participating in such talks.