Qatar says no compromise on "independent" foreign policy

Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al Thani said Qatar was willing to "negotiate" on the security matters of the Gulf countries, but would maintain an independent foreign policy.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Speaking during a tour of European capitals to gauge support among Doha's traditional allies, Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al Thani said there was "no proof" to accusations made against Qatar.

Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al Thani on Monday told a news conference in France that he "still had no clue" why fellow Gulf states cut ties with Doha. 

"It's not about Iran or Al Jazeera," Sheikh Mohammed told reporters in Paris after meeting his French counterpart.

"We have no clue about the real reasons."

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar a week ago, accusing it of supporting terrorist groups and cosying up to regional rival Iran.

TRT World's Nicole Johnston has more from Doha.

Speaking during a tour of European capitals to gauge support among Doha's traditional allies, Sheikh Mohammed said there was "no proof" to accusations made against Qatar. He said his country was ready for dialogue to resolve the crisis.

"Whatever is related to the collective security of the Gulf countries, Qatar is ready to negotiate but we have the right to react to these accusations that we are interfering in their internal affairs.

"Our foreign policy is subject to the sovereignty of our country and is based on our own assessment and our own principles."

Kuwait warns against "undesirable consequences"

The foreign minister welcomed moves by Kuwait to act as a mediator in the dispute "with the help of friendly countries such as the United States."

On Monday, Kuwait's emir, who has led mediation efforts to resolve the Gulf's worst diplomatic row in years, cautioned that the dispute could lead to "undesirable consequences," in comments carried by state news agency KUNA.

"It is difficult for us, the generation that built the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) 37 years ago, to see these disagreements between its members which may lead to undesirable consequences," said Sheikh Sabah al Ahmad al Jaber al Sabah.

"I personally lived through the first building blocks of this council nearly four decades ago, so it is not easy for someone like me as a leader to stand silent without doing everything I can to bring brothers back together."

Sheikh Sabah has visited Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar in the last week in an effort to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

"Starve the beast"

In Washington, US President Donald Trump, who has strongly backed the countries imposing sanctions on Qatar despite a more neutral stance taken by the State Department and Pentagon, said the measures were helping to stop terrorism funding.

"One of the big things that we did and you are seeing it now is Qatar and all of the things that are actually going on in a very positive fashion. We are stopping the funding of terrorism," he said during a photo call with cabinet officials. "We are going to starve the beast.”

The biggest diplomatic rift in years among the states of the Gulf has disrupted Qatar's imports of food and other materials, although its finance minister has played down the economic toll of the confrontation.

Qatar announced Monday that it had launched direct shipping services to ports in Oman in a bid to bypass the Gulf "blockade."

Saudi Arabia has closed the Qatari peninsula's only land border, threatening imports of both fresh food and raw materials needed to complete a $200 billion infrastructure project for the 2022 football World Cup.

Iran, Saudi Arabia's main regional rival, had announced Sunday that it had sent five planes carrying produce to Qatar.

Three ships carrying 350 tonnes of food were also set to leave Iran for the emirate.

TRTWorld and agencies