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Qatar seeking mediation to mend Gulf rift

China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-07 07:35

Qatar seeking mediation to mend Gulf rift

Shoppers stock up on supplies at a supermarket in Doha, Qatar, on Monday after Saudi Arabia closed its land border with Qatar, through which the tiny Gulf nation imports most of its food. Doha News Via Ap

DUBAI - Qatar said on Tuesday it was ready for mediation efforts after the Arab world's biggest powers severed ties with it.

Kuwait's Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah was scheduled to travel to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, hoping to heal the damaging rift by meeting with Saudi Arabia's King Salman.

France said on Tuesday it wanted the diplomatic dispute to be resolved through dialogue, its foreign ministry said. Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drain was scheduled to hold talks with his Saudi and Qatari counterparts later in the day.

Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim also said his country will press ahead with efforts to end the standoff through dialogue.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed relations with Qatar in a coordinated move on Monday. Yemen, Libya and the Maldives joined later. Transport links shut down, triggering supply shortages. It was the biggest diplomatic crisis in the Persian Gulf since the 1991 US-led war against Iraq.

Observers said this diplomatic crisis will weaken the influence of the Gulf Cooperation Council and that other countries may take the advantage to further intervene in the Arab world's affairs.

Qatar has for years played mediator and power broker for regional disputes. The gas-rich country has backed the Muslim Brotherhood, interacted with Iran, and held open channels with Hamas and extremist groups like al-Qaida, a policy that sometimes angered its neighbors but was generally accepted by the Arab world and its Western allies.

Although Qatar stood firmly with Saudi Arabia on major regional issues, such as the civil wars in Syria and Yemen, the two countries have differed on Iran.

Qatar hopes to become a broker between the Gulf countries and Iran, advocating improved relations with Teheran, a stance resented by Saudi Arabia, said Sun Degang, deputy director of the Middle East Studies Institute at Shanghai International Studies University.

With the world's third-largest natural gas reserves, Qatar seeks to compete with Saudi Arabia to assume the leading role on regional issues, sparking disputes with its neighbor, Sun said.

Xinhua - Ap - Reuters

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