Top diplomats from Russia and Qatar discuss Gulf diplomatic crisis
Biggest concentration of US military personnel in Mideast at Qatar base
Dialogue is the best way to tackle the political rift in the Arab world over Qatar, two top diplomats said Saturday in Moscow.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with his Qatari counterpart, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, in the Russian capital.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and other nations in the region moved to cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar this week. It’s the worst diplomatic crisis to hit Gulf Arab states in decades.
They accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism and destabilizing the region with ties to their Shiite rival, Iran, and its support for groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.
Qatar acknowledges its links to these groups but denies that it supports terrorism.
“We cannot be glad about the situation, when relations between our partners are getting worse,” Lavrov said, according to Russian state-run media.
“Only through direct dialogue it is possible to better understand each other’s concerns, look at the ways of solving these concerns, ensure transparency in all these issues.”
Lavrov said unity on the matter must be forged in the Arab League, the Gulf Cooperation Council and among nations.
“We are maintaining contacts with the majority of the participants of the ongoing processes,” he said, a reference to the various channels of communication throughout the region.
The Qatari minister said the main goal of his visit “is to inform Russia on those events and measures taken against Qatar,” such as sanctions.
He said Russia and Qatar “are bonded with relationship of friendship” and appreciates the countries’ bilateral cooperation.
“Every problem should only be solved with a dialogue. The format of dialogue among the states of Persian Gulf is the most appropriate format for such dialogue.”
The rupture is also affecting US policy and the regional fight against ISIS.
The biggest concentration of US military personnel in the Middle East is at Qatar’s Al Udeid Air Base.
The base and the 11,000 military personnel stationed on it are key resources in the fight against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
President Donald Trump on Friday urged Qatar to stop funding terrorism, claiming credit for and endorsing the decision of Gulf nations to ostracize their neighbor.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, speaking to reporters shortly before Trump’s remarks, said the Gulf countries’ land and air blockade of Doha is hurting the campaign against ISIS, an assessment Pentagon officials only partially corroborated.