Published: Mon, September 11, 2017
World | By Carl Welch

Trump speaks to Qatar emir on Gulf unity

Trump speaks to Qatar emir on Gulf unity

But the Saudi Press Agency made no mention of the appointment of envoys to discuss the conflict, insisting that Salman would talk to allies Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt before releasing details about the substance of his conversation with Qatar's emir.

Qatar, hit by a land and air embargo imposed by a group of its most powerful neighbours, in early August introduced a visa-free entry programme for 80 nationalities to stimulate air transport and tourism.

The Arab nations have made several demands of Qatar, and Kuwait has been trying to mediate the dispute.

"What the Qatar News Agency published did not have any relevance to truth, and what was published by the Qatar News Agency is a continuation of the distortion by the Qatari authority of the facts", a Saudi official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

A proposed meeting between Qatari and Saudi leaders who had both expressed willingness to start talks over regional crisis, has been suspended due to apparent protocol dispute which caused a hiccup. The White House earlier acknowledged Trump spoke with Sheikh Tamim and Crown Prince Mohammed, as well as Abu Dhabi's powerful crown prince.

A Saudi-led bloc of Arab states on Friday dismissed Kuwaiti mediation and maintained a tough line even after US President Donald Trump offered to help resolve the crisis.

Mr. Trump reminded Qatar's Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani of the united front against terror financing that the president founded with his May speech in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, according to the White House.

The four Arab states stressed in their joint statement that "the military option has not been and will not be considered" under any circumstances.

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On June 22, the group issued a 13-point list of demands, including the shutdown of Al Jazeera, limiting ties with Iran, and expelling Turkish troops stationed in the country as a prerequisite to lifting the blockade.

Doha recently resumed diplomatic ties with Tehran, following a break in relations that had been coordinated with other Gulf Cooperation Council states.

Kuwait has emerged as a key mediator in the crisis, while the United States has given mixed signals on its policy.

For his part, Sheikh Sabah said he remained hopeful that a resolution to the crisis could be reached.

"We thank Saudi Arabia. for adopting a new approach in dealing with Iranian pilgrims", said Ali Ghazi-Askar, the head of the Hajj organisation in Tehran, according to the state broadcaster.

Some other U.S. officials including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have adopted a more measured tone. Qatar is home to the region's biggest US military base.

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