Abu Dhabi: A senior UAE military officer said on Tuesday its forces had instructions not to escalate a seven-month diplomatic crisis with Qatar.

“From the beginning of the Qatari provocations, we were given instructions from our superiors not to escalate in this area as part of our commitment to the principle of regional security and peace, and also for the safety of these planes and those on board,” Air Force Brigadier General Hilal Sayeed Al Qubaisi told a press conference in Abu Dhabi.

UAE military aircraft would also fly alternative routes over Saudi Arabia to avoid the possibility of interception by Qatari warplanes, he added.

The UAE said on January 15 that Qatari warplanes had twice intercepted its civilian aircraft that day during routine flights to Bahrain.

The UAE also said Qatari warplanes harassed three of its military aircraft in international airspace on December 27 and January 12.

The ministers of foreign affairs of the four Arab countries combating terrorism and boycotting Qatar — Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE and Bahrain — held a consultative meeting on Monday in Riyadh to discuss their course of action in light of Qatar’s activities.

The meeting was part of the continuous consultation and coordination between the four countries on the Qatar crisis.

The parties reviewed the latest developments on the issue and stressed the importance of continuing the coordination and close solidarity between the four countries in order to preserve Arab national security, to safeguard regional and international peace and security, to enhance the efforts to eliminate terrorism in all its forms, and to tackle those who support or finance it.