U.S. diplomat ends Qatar rift talks with no solution to crisis in sight

RIYADH, July 12 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday ended talks with several anti-Qatar countries seeking a resolution to the regional rift, but was unable to break the impasse.

The meeting with the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Bahrain -- the four countries boycotting Qatar -- in Jeddah came after Tillerson visited Kuwait and Qatar, during which he signed an agreement with the Qatari government aimed at combating the financing of terrorism.

Despite Tillerson's announcement that he has secured a "very, very strong agreement" with Qatar to crack down on financing extremism, the Saudi-led quarter warned that this was "not enough."

In a joint statement responding to the U.S.-Qatari agreement, the quarter said they believe that the Memorandum of Understanding between the United States and Qatar is "a result of repeated pressures and demands over the past years to Qatar to stop supporting terrorism."

"But that such a step is not sufficient and we will closely monitor the seriousness of Qatar in combating all forms of funding, supporting and fostering terrorism," the statement said.

The four states reinstated 13 wide-ranging demands they had earlier submitted to Qatar as a condition for removing sanctions. The demands include curbing Qatar's relations with Iran, closing the Doha-based Al Jazeera TV channel, shutting down a Turkish military base in Qatar and handing over all designated "terrorists" on its territory.

The group said their sanctions on Doha would remain in place as long as it refuses to meet their demands.

They would also "keep a close eye on Qatari efforts to fight terrorism funding," the statement added.

Accusing Qatar of financing extremist groups and allying with Iran, a Saudi rival, the four Arab countries have severed diplomatic ties with gas-rich Qatar and cut off sea, land and air links to the tiny rich Gulf nation. They also imposed sanctions on Qatar on June 5.

Qatar has strongly denied the charges, while rejecting the list of 13 demands put forward by the bloc for resuming diplomatic ties.

Doha said the counter-terrorism deal with the United States was not linked to the dispute.

Also on Wednesday, Iran said the Islamic Republic is against the pressures exerted by the Saudi-led bloc on Qatar.

"Threats, pressures and imposing sanctions on a neighboring country like Qatar is a wrong approach and all should make efforts to end tension in the region," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said during a meeting with visiting Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah.

Certain countries' "wrong decisions" have also caused crises in Yemen, Syria and Bahrain, Rouhani said, adding that such a situation is harmful to the entire region.

The Iranian president said Tehran welcomes any attempt to end conflicts in the Middle East, and negotiation is the only way to settle the crises in Yemen and Bahrain.

Having been under siege since early June, Qatar has turned to Iran and Turkey for food supplies and Omani ports to keep construction supplies flowing as it prepares to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022.

As to the likely next stage of the sanctions, namely the capital and credit control on Qatar that is underway, observers said it may spell the end of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council, which groups Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The consequences for the future will be negative for at least one camp or the other, they added.

During a visit to Slovakia, UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan told the media that Tillerson's visit was unlikely to resolve the row, which is in its second month.

"I think it will ease tensions, but it's just postponing the problem, which will grow in the future," he said.

[ Editor: meng ]


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