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Top US diplomat wraps up Gulf tour, but impasse grinds on

Tillerson discusses issue with Kuwait foreign minister

Image Credit: Reuters
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman during a meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Jeddah.
Gulf News

Dubai: The top US diplomat wrapped up his first foray in shuttle diplomacy on Thursday with little sign of progress in breaking a deadlock between the Arab bloc of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain, and Qatar.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson travelled to the tiny nation for a second time for a lunch meeting with 37-year-old Emir Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani before heading back to Washington later in the day.

Tillerson and his Qatari counterpart appeared before cameras in the capital, Doha, but ignored reporters’ questions before he left.

Tillerson, a former Exxon Mobil CEO with deep experience in the Gulf, has been shuttling between Qatar, Saudi Arabia and mediator Kuwait since Monday trying to repair a rift that is dividing some of America’s most important Mideast allies.

Officials have downplayed expectations and say any resolution could be months away.

Earlier Tillerson visited Kuwait, a mediator in the diplomatic crisis, and met the country’s Foreign Minister.

Tillerson and Shaikh Sabah Khalid Al Sabah reviewed efforts to resolve the row during the meeting held at Bayan Palace, the official KUNA news agency reported.

Tillerson’s clearest achievement has been to secure a memorandum of understanding with Qatar to strengthen its counterterrorism efforts and address shortfalls in policing terrorism funding.

The four countries severed diplomatic ties and sea, land and air links with Qatar over its support for terrorism. The four countries have submitted a list of 13 demands for Qatar to comply that includes shutting down Al Jazeera news channel, limiting ties with regional rival Iran and expelling troops from Turkey.

Qatar has provided aid to terrorists group such as the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Arab bloc says Qatar’s counterterrorism pact with US is in the right direction, but it says the agreement does not go far enough.