The US is eager to see Qatar and its Gulf Arab neighbors end a three-year diplomatic crisis that has led to the blockade of the emirate, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday.
Speaking at the opening of a third annual strategic dialogue session, the top US diplomat said an end to the row would facilitate greater regional cooperation between Washington and Doha, adding it is “past time to find a solution to the Gulf rift.”
“The Trump administration is eager to see this dispute resolved, and to reopen Qatar’s air and land borders currently blocked by other Gulf states. I look forward to progress on this issue,” he said at the State Department.
The comments come less than one week after David Schenker, the State Department’s top official for the Middle East, said the blockade could be ended within “weeks” amid ongoing mediation between the parties hosted by the Kuwait with the US’s backing.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have cut ties with Doha and imposed a land, sea and air blockade on the country over allegations of supporting terrorism and meddling in their internal affairs. Qatar denies the charges, and has voiced openness to a dialogue to end the impasse.
US President Donald Trump initially sided in 2017 with the Saudi-led coalition before backtracking the following year by praising Qatar’s efforts to combat terrorism and calling Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani a “friend of mine.”
Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani said “despite regional challenges,” including the blockade, bilateral cooperation between the US and Qatar has “continually strengthened,” and suggested the row with Qatar’s regional neighbors has led Doha to strengthen its relations with the international community to “unprecedented levels.”
Al-Thani, who also serves as Qatar’s deputy prime minister, thanked Washington for supporting Kuwait’s efforts “to resolve the blockade on the basis of respect for the sovereignty and independence of the state of Qatar.”
The parties announced at the start of the two-day strategic dialogue session agreement on a cultural exchange, and their intent to support an investment forum in 2021.
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