Progress in Qatar talks, says Saudi Arabia

Filed on December 5, 2020 | Last updated on December 5, 2020 at 12.02 am


Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said: "We’ve made significant progress in the last few days."

The Saudi foreign minister on Friday expressed optimism the years-long boycott of Qatar may be nearing an end. His remarks came just hours after Kuwait described the ongoing talks over the crisis as “fruitful”.

A statement by Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmed Nasser Al Mohammad Al Sabah marked the first time officials there have made a special televised communique on the Qatar crisis. And the Saudi acknowledgement appeared to signal that something was changing.

Also read: Qatar breakthrough in sight

Speaking to Italy’s annual Mediterranean Dialogues, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said: “We’ve made significant progress in the last few days.”

“We hope that this progress can lead to a final agreement which looks in reach, and I can say that I am somewhat optimistic that we are close to finalising an agreement between all the nations in the dispute to come to a resolution that we think will be satisfactory to all,” he said.

That came just after the Kuwait’s foreign minister gave a brief statement on state television that discussions had been ongoing between parties under Kuwait’s new Amir, His Highness Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Sabah, and President Donald Trump over the crisis.

“Fruitful discussions have taken place in the past period, where all parties affirmed their keenness on Gulf and Arab solidarity and stability and on reaching a final agreement that achieves the aspired permanent solidarity between their countries,” Sheikh Ahmed said.

He also thanked Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and one of his senior advisers. Kushner and other American officials just travelled to Saudi Arabia and Qatar over the crisis in the waning days of the Trump administration.

Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani immediately wrote on Twitter that the Kuwaiti statement was an “imperative step towards resolving the GCC crisis”.

“We express our gratitude to the State of Kuwait for their mediation & the United States for their efforts,” Sheikh Mohammed wrote. “The interest and security of the people of the Gulf & the region remain our top priority.”

Oman, which also tried to mediate the dispute, welcomed the announcement in a statement carried by state television.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking remotely to the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ annual Manama Dialogue, said he hoped any agreement between Qatar and the boycotting countries would be made on a “foundation that is lasting”.

“We are very hopeful that the dispute between the Saudis and the Qataris can be resolved,” Pompeo said. “We’re going to keep working to facilitate conversations and dialogues.”

“This needless crisis needs to come to an end,” said Sheikh Mohammed, speaking earlier to the Mediterranean Dialogues.

“There are some movements that we hope that this will put an end to this crisis,” he said. “We believe actually that Gulf unity is very important for the security of the region.”

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