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Trump offers to mediate in Qatar crisis

Kuwaiti Emir says he is ‘optimistic a solution will come in the very near future’

Image Credit: Reuters
US President Donald Trump (R) welcomes Emir of Kuwait, Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, at the White House Oval Office in Washington, September 7, 2017.

Washington: President Donald Trump on Thursday hailed efforts by the leader of Kuwait, a staunch American ally, to mediate a festering diplomatic crisis involving Qatar and its Arab neighbours that could have implications for the US military presence in the region.

President Donald Trump said he would be willing to serve as a mediator between Qatar and a Saudi-led Arab bloc and predicted the two sides could reach a deal “very quickly.” Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut transport, economic and diplomatic ties with Qatar in June, over Doha’s funding of terrorism.

“I do believe we will solve it,” Trump said on Thursday in a White House news conference with the Emir of Kuwait, Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah. “If we don’t solve it, I will be a mediator right here in the White House” and “we will have something very quickly.” 

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Everything you need to know about the Qatar crisis

Trump hailed the mediation efforts by the Kuwaiti leader. The Kuwaiti Emir said he was “optimistic a solution will come in the very near future, God willing.”

Shaikh Sabah said he has received a letter from Qatar agreeing to sit down and discuss the list of 13 demands from its Arab neighbours.

The spat broke out shortly after Trump visited Saudi Arabia in May, where he called for concerted action against terrorism and said Iran, which has close relations with Qatar, was fuelling instability in the region.

Trump has urged all parties in the Qatar dispute to find a diplomatic resolution that in line with commitments made between the Arab leaders and Trump during his visit.

But as the dispute has continued, Qatar has shown signs of moving closer to Iran. Qatar said last month it will return its ambassador to Iran and seek stronger ties with Tehran, further complicating relations in the region. Trump said all the countries involved — members of the Gulf Cooperation Council — are “essential partners” with the United States in efforts to crack down on extremism, including the fight against Daesh.

“We will be most successful with a united GCC,” he said. “We will send a strong message to both terrorist organisations and regional aggressors that they cannot win.”

In Kuwait, media reports on Thursday focused on the Emir’s visit to Washington as a sign of the strong relationship the two countries have, including when a US-led coalition expelled occupying Iraqi forces from the small nation during the 1991 Gulf War. Today, Kuwait hosts some 13,500 American troops, many at Camp Arifjan south of Kuwait City, which also is home to the forward unit of the US Army Central Command.