Saturday 21 April 2018

Saudi-Qatar dispute to last quite a while, says US

DUBAI, July 15, 2017

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said a dispute between a Saudi-led coalition comprising the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt and Qatar may last “quite a while” as the two sides still refuse to speak to each other directly and are no closer to resolving the key demands made after the crisis started, said a report.
Despite leaving the Middle East after four days of shuttle diplomacy without a breakthrough, Tillerson said progress was made, reported Bloomberg.
Potential ways forward in the dispute were weighed by both sides and there is a “changed sense of willingness to at least be open to talking to one another and that was not the case before I came,” Tillerson said on Thursday evening while en route to Washington from the Gulf region.
Nevertheless, “the final and ultimate resolution may take quite a while,” Tillerson said. “But if we can begin to have some success beginning to take some of these issues off the table because we now have a way to move forward then I’m hoping that will start the process of returning, normalizing relations.”
Tillerson sought to tap his previous experience as Exxon Mobil Corporation's CEO, where he frequently met and negotiated with Gulf leaders, to resolve the dispute sparked last month when Saudi-led coalition cut diplomatic and trade links with Qatar over "supporting terrorism, meddling in their internal affairs and cozying up to their rival Iran - all charges that Qatar has denied."
Some of the demands “I do think can be addressed up front fairly quickly, some of them are going to be, I think, more complex,” Tillerson said.
In one sign of just how long the road ahead is, UAE Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash said the sides are “far away” from a solution, reported Bloomberg.
“I see Qatar crisis heading to ‘calm fire’ as the neighbour doesn’t see the need to reconsider its policies,” he said on Twitter. “All sides will exercise according to our national interests.”
This week’s diplomacy may be followed by another round of negotiations involving the US, the UK and the Saudi-led bloc, which has agreed to study Tillerson’s ideas, as early as next week, according to three officials with knowledge of the deliberations, it added.
Qatar boasts one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, with stakes in global companies from Glencore to Barclays  as well as landmark London properties. Its influence goes beyond money. 
The small peninsular nation hosts the regional headquarters for US Central Command, which includes a state-of-the-art air base the Pentagon depends on to target Islamic State.
Saudi Arabia also has significant US investments as well as strong counterterrorism ties with the American military, and it’s a top customer for American weapons makers.

Tags: Qatar | Saudi | US | dispute | Tillerson |

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