CONCERNS RAISED OVER IMPACT ON BI-NATIONAL FAMILIES
KUWAIT CITY, July 16, (Agencies): French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian held talks with top officials in Kuwait on Sunday in a bid to bolster the state’s attempts to mediate in the Gulf crisis.
Le Drian met HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah and Kuwait’s foreign minister, state news agency KUNA said, for talks on a regional rift which has seen Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain sever all ties with Qatar. Le Drian, who is due in the United Arab Emirates Sunday night, stopped in Qatar and Saudi Arabia at the start of his two-day Gulf tour on Saturday.
The French foreign minister has supported Kuwait as a mediator in the Gulf crisis, which he said should be resolved “by the Gulf countries themselves”. “France does not want to substitute the mediator,” Le Drian said in Saudi Arabia on Saturday. “It wants to be a facilitator by joining efforts of other countries”. Le Drian’s visit comes after a four-day mediation mission by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, which ended on Thursday with no announcement of progress towards defusing mounting tensions in the Gulf.
Saudi Arabia and its allies imposed sanctions on Doha on June 5, including closing its only land border, denying Qatar access to their airspace and ordering their citizens back from the emirate. The Gulf crisis is the worst to hit the region since the establishment of the Gulf Cooperation Council in 1981.
The Brazilian government has meanwhile, expressed its support of the efforts exerted by His Highness the Amir of Kuwait to resolve the Gulf crisis. “The Brazilian government continues to follow with attention the recent developments of the diplomatic crisis in the Gulf region”, Brazil Embassy in Kuwait said in a statement Sunday.
The statement added that Brazil would like to renew its appeal to all parties involved to surmount their differences through dialogue aimed at regional stability. It said that Brazil would also like to express its support for His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah’s mediation efforts in the crisis. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir hoped the Gulf crisis would be solved within the Gulf Cooperation Council, while his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian called for confidence-building between the four countries and Qatar. At a joint news conference with Le Drian Saturday, Al-Jubeir hoped the crisis between Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt on one side and Qatar on the other would be solved within the six-member GCC. Al-Jubeir said he affirmed to the French party Saudi Arabia’s firm rejection to terrorism financing. Saudi Arabia, he added, appreciated France’s position regarding the crises in the region. Al-Jubeir said he and Le Drian discussed, meanwhile, the situations in Syria and Iraq. Le Drian called for confidencebuilding measures between the four countries and Qatar to pave way for a resolution of the crisis.
Impact on bi-nationals
France’s foreign minister earlier on Saturday called on Qatar’s neighbors to immediately lift measures impacting thousands of people in the Gulf, becoming the latest foreign diplomat to visit the region and attempt to help find a resolution to a crisis that has dragged on for more than a month. In early June, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with Qatar and moved to isolate the small, but wealthy Gulf nation, canceling air routes between their capitals and Qatar’s and closing their airspace to Qatari flights. Saudi Arabia also sealed Qatar’s only land border, impacting a key source of food imports in the mostly desert nation.
The four countries also expelled all Qatari nationals, impacting mixed-nationality families in the Gulf, students and people seeking medical treatment abroad, among others. Prior to the dispute, Qataris could travel visa-free between the Gulf countries. Jean-Yves Le Drian said such punitive measures should end. “France is calling for these measures to be lifted, especially ones that affect the (Qatari) population, specifically measures that impact bi-national families that have been separated,” Le Drian said. He was speaking to reporters in Qatar alongside Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, who said he welcomed mediation efforts and possible negotiations so long as they are founded on respect for “sovereignty.”
World Cup story fake
A story claiming that six Arab nations had written to FIFA demanding that Qatar be stripped of the World Cup in 2022 was published on what appeared to be a fake version of a Swiss news website, the site’s cofounder said on Sunday. The report, carried on a website resembling The Local, included quotes purporting to be from FIFA President Gianni Infantino. It said that the six countries, which last month cut ties with Qatar, had collectively written to world soccer’s governing body asking it to remove Qatar as hosts under Article 85 of the FIFA Code, which allows for such action in the case of emergency.
“The Local’s staff neither wrote, published nor removed the article in question and The Local can therefore not vouch for any of the claims made,” co-founder James Savage said in a statement on Sunday. “Our investigation so far indicates the article appeared on a fake site designed to look like The Local, and never appeared on The Local’s own site.” Reuters published stories based on the report, which were subsequently withdrawn. The Local publishes in English and operates nine news sites across Europe.