Qatar not serious to end Gulf crisis—Bahrain minister

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Aden - Yasmin Abdel Azim - Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa Image Credit: AP

Cairo: Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa has said that Qatar is not serious about ending a long-standing rift with a Saudi-led bloc, damping expectations for an imminent end to the crisis.

Qatari Emir Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani skipped an annual summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that was held in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Tuesday.

He sent the emirate’s Prime Minister Abdullah Bin Nasser Al Thani to head the Qatari delegation at the gathering.

The Bahraini minister cited the deputisation as a sign of Qatar’s non-serious approach to the 2-1/2 dispute.

“This non-seriousness was quite obvious in its dealing with the Riyadh summit,”he said in a statement released by the Bahraini Foreign Ministry late Tuesday.

He added that the Qatari officials sent by the Emir to attend the GCC gatherings had no mandate to help end the crisis.

In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and non-GCC Egypt cut off diplomatic and transportation links with Qatar over its support for extremist groups.

The four countries have repeatedly demanded Doha to comply with a set of conditions to end the standoff. The demands include Qatar’s severance of links with militant and terror groups, scaling down ties with Iran and shutting down Al Jazeera TV, seen as a mouthpiece of the banned Muslim Brotherhood.

Qatar has refused the conditions, saying they violate its sovereignty.

Last week, Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammad Bin Abdul Rahman confirmed media reports about talks between his country and Saudi Arabia to end the Gulf feud. The Qatari official said at the time that the talk was no longer on what he termed as “crippling” demands of the quartet to normalise ties with Doha.

The Bahraini minister dismissed his Qatari counterpart’s claim as untrue.

“What Qatar’s foreign minister said that dialogue with Saudi Arabia has moved beyond the four countries’ demands... does not at reflect the content of discussion,” Khalid said. “Our countries completely adhere to their stance and demands,” he added.

In recent weeks, Kuwait, a GCC member country, has intensified its efforts to resolve the Gulf crisis and suggested that its bid is bearing fruit.

On Tuesday, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal Bin Farhan said that the quartet back efforts of Kuwaiti Emir Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah to heal the rift.

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