Qatar will not negotiate with its GCC neighbours until the blockade is lifted, the country’s foreign minister told the state-owned Aljazeera network.

“Qatar is under blockade, there is no negotiation. They have to lift the blockade to start negotiations,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani told the channel in Doha.

There have been various reports in the past week that the UAE and Saudi Arabia are drawing up a list of demands that Qatar must meet to order for relations to be restored.

But Sheikh Mohamed responded to these reports by saying that “[Qatar] we cannot just have (vague) demands such as ’the Qataris know what we want from them, they have to stop this or that, they have to be monitored by a foreign monitoring mechanism.”

It is understood that a number of bilateral talks between Qatar and GCC countries, mediated by Kuwait, are underway with Turkey and US keen on finding a solution for the fallout soon.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain, as well as other Muslim majority countries aligned with Riyadh, severed ties with Doha earlier this month following accusations that it was a sponsor of regional terrorism.

The severing of diplomatic ties resulted in the closing of key transportation links to Qatar. This included the closing of land, sea and air border, raising concerns over Qatar’s ability to import key building materials and food products.

No middle ground on Qatar crisis

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The Qatar diplomatic crisis has continued to dominat the region’s news agenda for a second week running, with Doha’s response to the blockade by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and several other Arab states adding new aspects to the dispute.

Doha this week denied allegations that it is a supporter of terrorist groups and that its foreign policy is destabilising the region, and it asserted its sovereign right to pursue its own foreign policy.

Qatar’s firm response, coupled with the severe actions of the other protagonists, suggests there is little middle ground to be found that could be used as the basis for a diplomatic solution. If so, this would mean the dispute could became prolonged.

But there are reasons to be optimistic that the crisis can resolved quickly and without further significant shocks. Doha has avoided taking any retaliatory steps, such as disrupting gas supplies to Egypt or the UAE. And, beyond issuing a list of individuals and organisations accused of supporting terrorism, the blockading group has refrained from further escalation this week.

Additionally, Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah has been engaging in intensive shuttle diplomacy around the region’s capitals as he seeks to mediate in the dispute. Read more.