An economic blockade on Qatar by some of its Arab Gulf neighbours is having the effect of pushing the country into closer economic ties with Iran, despite political differences, Qatar’s foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani has said.
Speaking at the French Institute of International Relations in Paris on Monday on The Gulf Crisis: the View from Doha on Monday, he said: “They said Qatar was now closer to Iran. By their measures they are pushing Qatar to Iran. They are giving Iran, or any regional force, Qatar like a gift.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt cut political and trade ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of “supporting terrorism” and their regional rival, Iran. Qatar vehemently denies the allegations.
But the foreign minister said he had seen from US president Donald Trump a “greater desire” to fix the crisis, adding that Trump “doesn’t want to see conflict among friends”.
Trump, who met Sheikh Tamim in New York, has said that he expects the dispute to be resolved soon.
“Is that their objective, to push one country, a GCC member state towards Iran? This is not a wise objective.”
Mohammed bin Abdulrahman said Qatar still had political differences with Iran, including over Syria.
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Kuwait has been leading the mediation efforts without success so far.
But with the dispute, now into its fifth month, Qatar has sought alternative trade routes and sources.
The International Monetary Fund said last month that Qatar has acted effectively in protecting its economy against the Gulf sanctions, in part because of rerouting trade and establishing new sources of food supply.
Countries, like Iran and Turkey, have been sending cargo planes with tonnes of food supplies since the start of the blockade.
Mohammed bin Abdulrahman, along with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, was in New York for the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly, which concluded on Monday.
He said that Donald Trump was keen on ending the diplomatic crisis via dialogue between the various parties.
Mohammed bin Abdulrahman restated Qatar’s stance that it is being falsely accused of supporting “terrorism” because its progressive policies have differed from those of the blockading nations.
“We believe that to resolve these differences, we all need dialogue and discussion based on respecting our choices and independence,” he told the Paris audience.
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Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies