UK foreign minister backs Kuwait mediation

09 July 2017

Boris Johnson says there is potential for progress to end political rift in the GCC

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson says progress can be made towards finding a solution that could end the political spat between Qatar and a group of largely Arab nations.

“My impression is progress can be made and there is a way forward,” Johnson, who arrived in Saudi Arabia on 7 July to hold a series of meetings with representatives from the opposing sides, was quoted as saying in media reports after meeting senior officials in Kuwait. Kuwait is mediating to end the second GCC diplomatic crisis in three years.

The four-nation bloc of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic ties with Doha, accusing it of financing terrorism, meddling in their affairs and destabilising the region, claims which Qatar has denied.

“The foreign secretary will urge all parties to get behind Kuwait’s mediation efforts, which the UK strongly supports, and work towards de-escalation and Gulf unity for the sake of regional stability,” according to a 7 July British Foreign Office statement.

“He will also discuss a range of security and bilateral issues with a particular focus on working together to address the common threats of extremism, radicalisation and terrorism.”

On 8 July, Johnson met Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim al-Thani in Doha and discuss the impact of the ongoing rift on the regional stability. The foreign secretary, who is scheduled to travel to the UAE next, also discussed a range of regional and international efforts to combat terrorism in the wider Middle Eastern region.

Johnson is the latest foreign dignitary to seek a solution to the Qatar crisis. US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, who had pushed the blockading countries to present their list of demands last month, has also been pushing Qatar, and other Arab nations to end the dispute. He has held numerous phones conversations and several meetings in the US and is scheduled to travel to region to meet officials from both sides.

The four Arab states, which have also cut transport ties with Qatar, the world’s top liquefied natural gas exporter, have asked Doha to shut down the pan-Arab Al-Jazeera TV channel and close a Turkish military base in the country. Qatar has rejected their list of 13 demands and said it would not negotiate until the economic blockade is lifted. Qatari officials have said the demands were aimed at undermining its sovereignty Doha would only negotiating a fair and just solution to ‘any legitimate issues’ the other Arab countries may have.

The bloc condemned Doha’s response last week but did not announce new sanctions. 

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