Kuwait says Qatar open to talks on Gulf dispute

Kuwait, which has retained ties with Qatar and has often acted as a mediator in regional disputes, said it wanted to resolve the dispute "within the unified Gulf house."

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Kuwait Foreign Minister Sabah al Khalid al Sabah said his country wanted to resolve the dispute "within the unified Gulf house."

Qatar is ready to listen to the concerns of Gulf Arab states that have cut diplomatic and economic ties, Kuwait said on Sunday, as it tried to mediate a solution to the worst regional crisis in years.

Saudi Arabia and allies Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) severed ties with Qatar last week, accusing it of supporting militants and regional rival Iran - charges Doha denies.

The rift has disrupted travel, separated families, severed commercial links and sown confusion among banks and businesses while deepening divisions between their respective allies fighting in wars and political struggles from Libya to Yemen.

"[Kuwait] affirms the readiness of the brothers in Qatar to understand the reality of the qualms and concerns of their brothers and to heed the noble endeavours to enhance security and stability," Kuwait's state news agency KUNA quoted Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al Khalid al Sabah as saying.

Kuwait, which has retained ties with Qatar and has often acted as a mediator in regional disputes, said it wanted to resolve the dispute "within the unified Gulf house."

A previous mediation effort by Kuwait in which the Emir Sheikh Sabah al Ahmad al Jaber al Sabah shuttled between Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Doha, failed to achieve an immediate breakthrough.

"Is this the beginning of wisdom and reasonable thinking? I hope so," UAE minister of state for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash wrote on Twitter in reaction to Kuwait saying Qatar was ready to listen to the grievances.

Painting depicting Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al Thani is seen on a bus during a demonstration in his support in Doha. (Reuters)

Qatar denounces "policy of domination"

Even as Kuwait's statement appeared to show some signs of a thaw in recent tensions, a senior counter-terrorism adviser to Qatar's foreign minister hit out at the diplomatic squeeze on Doha, calling it a "policy of domination and control."

Mutlaq al Qahtani, a special envoy to Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al Thani, said the decision to sever ties with Qatar would not prove successful.

"I think this is not about counter-terrorism, it's not about terror financing," he said.

"I think it is about an orchestrated campaign against my country to pressure my country to change its active, independent foreign policy.

"This policy of domination and control is not going to work."

Qatar, a small desert country, relies heavily on imports to feed its population of 2.7 million. (Reuters)

Food shortage concerns

The economic impact of the diplomatic boycott is already visible, as shoppers have been flocking to Qatar's main supermarkets to stock up on staples despite assurances by the government that there would be no food shortages.

Qatar, a small desert country, relies heavily on imports to feed its population of 2.7 million. It was importing 80 percent of its food from bigger Gulf Arab neighbours before they cut ties and is now in talks with Iran and Turkey to secure food and water supplies.

On Sunday, Iran sent four cargo planes of food to Qatar and plans to provide 100 tonnes of fruit and vegetables every day, Iranian officials said.

"Following the sanctions on Qatar, Iran Air has so far transported food and vegetables to this country by four flights," Shahrokh Noushabadi, head of public relations at Iran's national airline, was quoted as saying by Fars news agency.

The head of the industries, business and trade organisation in the Fars province was also quoted by the Tasnim news agency as saying on Sunday the first planes carrying food to Qatar had flown from the southern city of Shiraz.

Senior officials from the countries opposed to Qatar have warned it that appealing for foreign assistance will not advance a reconciliation.

Qatar's energy minister said on Sunday Doha remained committed to an oil output cut deal agreed by OPEC and non-OPEC producers last month.

Mohammed al Sada said in a statement, "circumstances in the region shall not prevent the state of Qatar from honouring its international commitment of cutting its oil production."

In a sign Gulf states were seeking to lessen the human impact of their June 5 severing of ties, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE said on Sunday they had set up hotlines to help families with Qatari members, without elaborating.

TRTWorld and agencies