U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, arrive at the Sheraton Grand to hold a joint press conference in Doha, Qatar January 13, 2019. Image Credit: Reuters

Manama: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday the ongoing Gulf crisis in the Middle East “has dragged on too long”, though he gave no sign of any coming breakthrough in the dispute. “We are all more powerful when we are working together and disputes are limited. When we have a common challenge, disputes between countries with shared objectives are never helpful,” he said at a press conference in Qatar.

The crisis erupted in the open on June 5, 2017, when Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, in addition to Egypt, cut off diplomatic, commerce and travel relations with Qatar after they accused it of harbouring extremists and of interfering in their internal affairs.

Comments by Pompeo and Qatari Foreign Minister Shaikh Mohammad Bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani gave no sense of any movement in the ongoing diplomatic crisis with Doha over its support for extremists.

Pompeo later headed to Riyadh, where he is expected to meet with Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman.

For Washington, turning the page on the crisis is essential for the successful launch of the Strategic Alliance of the Middle East (Mesa), which is a Nato-style security pact that includes Gulf countries as well as Egypt and Jordan.

Meanwhile, Oman, the chair of the Gulf Cooperation Council session, has also launched a bid to end the Gulf crisis.

The Omani Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Saturday posted on its Twitter account that Oman was working on achieving the objectives of the GCC. Oman in its capacity as chair now wants to contribute more effectively to reaching a solution that would restore relations within the only Arab alliance that has survived and thrived for almost four decades.

Oman’s Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs Yousuf Bin Alawi, accompanied by GCC Secretary General Abdul Lateef Al Zayani, visited the other five GCC countries. The ambitious drive started on Wednesday in Kuwait, where Bin Alawi and Al Zayani met the Emir Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad, and senior Kuwaiti officials.

They subsequently held talks with the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE.

On Saturday, they arrived in Qatar where they had a meeting with the Qatari foreign minister.

Nothing has transpired from the meeting in Doha except the official statement that they “exchanged views on issues of common interest for the GCC”.

-With inputs from agencies