KUWAIT EMIR LEAVES SAUDI ARABIA AFTER CRISIS TALKS ON QATAR

Kuwaiti Emir Sabah al-Ahmed left Saudi Arabia Tuesday after holding talks with the Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud to try to defuse the escalating crisis between Arab countries and Qatar over Doha’s alleged support for militant groups.

Sabah, who arrived earlier in Jeddah, left the kingdom after a “brotherly visit,” the Kuwaiti state News Agency (KUNA) said, without giving any details on the talks.

The Saudi News Agency (SPA) said the emir held talks with Salman during which “they reviewed fraternal relations between the two brotherly countries and discussed developments in the region.”

On Monday, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Yemen announced they were cutting diplomatic ties and closing borders with Qatar, accusing the Gulf country of supporting terrorism in Syria and Yemen.

Sabah’s trip comes hours after Qatar said it was receptive to the Kuwaiti mediation efforts.

Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Thani said Qatari Emir Tamim al-Thani postponed a speech he was scheduled to deliver on Monday evening about the stand-off “in order to give a chance” for the mediation efforts led by the Kuwaiti ruler.

Sabah had called the Qatari emir and urged him to work for de-escalation, KUNA reported.

Kuwait is a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a US-allied body that also comprises Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and the UAE.

Meanwhile, the Bahraini News Agency (BNA) said Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa is set to travel to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to discuss “the latest regional and international developments.”

Late Tuesday, the Jordanian government decided to reduce its level of diplomatic representation with Qatar and cancel licenses of the Doha-based Al Jazeera television office in the country, the official Petra news agency reported.

Mauritania also announced Tuesday that it has cut off diplomatic relations with Qatar.

The Qatari Foreign Ministry said that Minister Mohammed al-Thani also held a telephone conversation on Tuesday with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel.

“The call reviewed bilateral relations and means of boosting and developing them in addition to discussing the latest developments among GCC states,” the ministry said.

Gabriel, in an interview with German newspaper Handelsblatt, slammed the concerted move by Arab states to sever ties with Qatar.

“Apparently, Qatar is to be isolated more or less completely and hit existentially,” Gabriel said. “Such a Trumpization of treatment is particularly dangerous in a region already plagued by crisis.”

The crisis comes less than two weeks after US President Donald Trump attended a gathering in Saudi Arabia with around 50 Muslim leaders that focused on building a partnership against terrorism.

On Tuesday, Trump claimed his move to pressure Arab nations to confront terrorism was “paying off” as Gulf nations isolated Qatar.

The current stand-off is seen as the one of the biggest challenges to have hit the GCC since it was created in 1981.

“The steps taken against Qatar were unprecedented and were one-sided,” Foreign Minister al-Thani told Qatari news broadcaster Al Jazeera.

In a new sign of escalation, Saudi Arabia on Tuesday revoked permits for Qatar’s national airline.

The Saudi Civil Aviation Authority also ordered the closure of all offices of Qatar Airlines in the kingdom within 48 hours, the official Saudi news agency SPA reported.

Passengers who had earlier bought tickets for flights to and from Qatar have been asked to contact their travel agent for a refund, according to the agency.

Airlines in Gulf countries and Egypt have already suspended flights to and from Qatar, tightening the noose on the tiny country.

The five countries also ordered Qatari citizens to leave their territories within two weeks, signalling a serious rift in a region roiled by militant turbulence.

Qatari officials denied reports that residents in the emirate are panic-stricken over potential fallout from the boycott over the daily life.

“Qatar has strategic stocks of basic food commodities enough to cover the needs of at least 12 months,” the head of the Qatari Chamber of Commerce, Khalifa Al-Thani, said in Doha.

UAE Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash meanwhile said Qatar would need to provide a “guaranteed roadmap” before it would consider mending links.

“We need a guaranteed roadmap to bolster the region’s security and stability and rebuild confidence after promises were broken,” Gargash said on Twitter.

In 2014, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain temporarily withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar, accusing it of breaching a regional security pact.

Qatar has good relations with Iran, which Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain view as a regional rival.

Source: NAM News Network

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