DOHA: President Donald Trump called Qatar’s emir on Wednesday and offered US help as efforts grew to resolve a damaging feud between the emirate and its Gulf neighbours.
Trump’s call to Qatari ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, a key US ally, came as a senior Emirati official said Arab states were not seeking “regime change” in Doha.
“The president offered to help the parties resolve their differences, including through a meeting at the White House if necessary,” Trump’s office said after the call.
A Qatari official said Trump had “expressed readiness to find a solution to the diplomatic crisis in the Gulf, and stressed his keenness that the Gulf remains stable”.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain announced on Monday they were cutting diplomatic ties and closing air, sea and land links with Qatar, giving Qataris within their borders two weeks to leave.
The four countries have suspended all flights to and from Qatar, pulled their ambassadors from Doha and ordered Qatari diplomats to leave.
Riyadh and its allies accuse Doha of supporting extremist groups and of serving Tehran’s interests, claims Doha has strongly rejected.
Kuwait is leading efforts to find a mediated solution.
Its emir, Sheikh Sabah al Ahmad al Sabah, flew to the Qatari capital on Wednesday. The Qatari ruler was at the airport to welcome him.
Sheikh Sabah earlier met Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum and other senior UAE officials in Dubai, after talks the day before with King Salman in Saudi Arabia.
The Kuwaiti ruler played a pivotal role in mediating a compromise in a 2014 diplomatic dispute between Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Gulf states.
The dispute has sparked the worst diplomatic crisis in the Arab world in years and raised fears it will cause further instability in an already-volatile region.
The United Arab Emirates state minister for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash on Wednesday accused Qatar of being “the main champion of extremism and terrorism in the region”.
But he also said measures taken against Qatar this week by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other Arab nations were not aimed at seeking new leadership in Doha.
The United States, France and Russia have called for dialogue while Turkey has defended Qatar and said it would further “develop” ties with Doha.
Turkey’s parliament on Wednesday approved deploying troops to a Turkish base in Qatar under a previously agreed plan, in a move seen as a sign of support for Doha.
Published in Dawn, June 8th, 2017