Mattis met with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and Defense Minister Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah
Trump said earlier this month he was willing to act as a mediator to resolve the months-long dispute between Qatar and its gulf neighbors
Secretary of Defense James Mattis made an unannounced visit to Qatar on Thursday and met with the nation’s Emir and Defense minister.
Mattis sat down with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and Defense Minister Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah at the Al Udeid Air Base. Mattis and Al Attiyah were seated next to each other and exchanged pleasantries before reporters were ushered out of the room.
Mattis’ visit comes after President Donald Trump said earlier this month he was willing to act as a mediator to resolve the months-long dispute between Qatar and its gulf neighbors.
The dispute is still ongoing three months after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar and initiated an economic boycott, citing Qatari funding of terrorist groups and, later, its increasingly close relationship with Iran.
The spat has simmered even amid the efforts of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has tried to bridge the divide between the Gulf nations and expressed frustrations about the lack of movement.
In the speech earlier this month, Trump opted instead for a thinly veiled warning that did not mention Qatar by name, but made clear the US will not tolerate ongoing financing of terrorist groups by Doha.
In June, Trump called on Qatar to stop funding terrorism, claiming credit for and endorsing the decision of Gulf nations to ostracize their neighbor, even as US Cabinet officials said their blockade is hurting the campaign against ISIS.
“We had a decision to make,” Trump said, describing conversations with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. “Do we take the easy road or do we finally take a hard but necessary action? We have to stop the funding of terrorism.”