Middle East

Doha-Riyadh talks to end ongoing Persian Gulf dispute stalled in January: Qatari FM

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani says negotiations between Doha-Riyadh to resolve a bitter regional conflict were suspended in January without tangible progress.

The discussions began last October over a rift that saw Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and the tiny country of Bahrain sever diplomatic ties with Doha and impose an air, land, and sea blockade on Qatar in June 2017.

The quartet accused Qatar of “sponsoring terrorism” – a charge repeatedly and vehemently rejected by Doha.

The four nations urged the Qatari government to comply with a list of demands that included severing ties with Iran and closing a Turkish military base in Qatar. Doha flatly rejected the demands and said it was being targeted because of the independent policies that it pursued.

“It’s been almost three years,” Sheikh Mohammed said on Saturday at the Munich Security Conference in Germany. “We were not perpetrators and are open to any offer to resolve this problem,” he said.

“Unfortunately efforts did not succeed and were suspended at the beginning of January and Qatar is not responsible for this,” he added.

In December 2019, Qatar’s then-prime minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani attended an annual meeting of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in Riyadh, its highest representation at the meeting since 2017.

“The work of the GCC has been affected by this crisis, and we hope to overcome many challenges next year,” Sheikh Abdullah said at the time, after the closed-door meeting in the kingdom’s capital.

In an interview with Qatar’s Al Jazeera television news network aired last December, Qatar’s foreign minister said the terrorism accusations leveled by Saudi Arabia and its allies against Qatar had proved to have “no basis at all.”

“Qatar will not make any concessions that will affect our sovereignty and interfere with our domestic or foreign policy,” he added.

-Doha-Riyadh

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