Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Kuwait express optimism that a years-long boycott of Doha by Arab quartet will come to an end following "fruitful discussions" over the issue.

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al Thani is seen during talks between the Afghan government and Taliban in Doha, Qatar, on September 12, 2020.
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al Thani is seen during talks between the Afghan government and Taliban in Doha, Qatar, on September 12, 2020. (Reuters)

Rivals Qatar and Saudi Arabia, along with neutral Oman and Kuwait, have expressed optimism that a resolution could be reached to the Gulf row that has seen Riyadh and its allies boycott Doha for over three years.

Qatar said on Friday that some progress has been achieved to resolve the Gulf crisis, but cautioned the crisis will not be immediately resolved. 

"We have achieved certain progress at a certain point of time more than a year ago, and then things have slowed," Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al Thani said at the Mediterranean Dialogues forum in Rome.

"Right now, there are some movements that we hope will put an end (to) this crisis," he said, without giving details.

"We believe that Gulf unity is very important for the security of the region. This needless crisis needs to end based on mutual respect."

He, however, cautioned that the crisis wouldn't be immediately resolved and declined to offer any timetable nor any details of the negotiations. 

"This needless crisis needs to come to an end," Sheikh Mohammed said.

Two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters news agency that an announcement could be made soon on an initial step towards resolving the dispute.

READ MORE: Can Trump resolve the Qatar crisis before Biden takes over?

'Final agreement' within reach

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister also expressed optimism the boycott of Qatar may be nearing an end.

"We've made significant progress in the last few days," Prince Faisal bin Farhan said.

"We hope this progress can lead to a final agreement that looks in reach," the prince said.

The Saudi acknowledgment appeared to signal something was changing.

However, the other three nations who are also boycotting Qatar — Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates — did not immediately acknowledge this burst of optimism. 

'Fruitful discussions'

Meanwhile, Kuwait said that there have been "fruitful discussions" at resolving the years of boycott of Qatar.

"Fruitful discussions have taken place recently in which all sides expressed their keenness ... to reach a final agreement," Sheikh Ahmad Nasser al Sabah said in a statement read out on Kuwait TV, thanking White House senior adviser Jared Kushner for his "recent efforts."

Sheikh Ahmed said the country's ruler has been talking to US President Donald Trump.

He said Kuwait hopes to create a "final outcome" for peace between all the countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council "in the long run." 

Oman's Foreign Ministry tweeted similarly worded statements thanking Kuwait and the US for their efforts to resolve the spat – but gave no details on the talks.

Blockade on Qatar 

Saudi led its allies to cut ties with Qatar in 2017, accusing it of backing militant groups in the region, charges Doha denies.

They subsequently forced out Qataris residing in their countries, closed their airspace to Qatari aircraft and sealed their borders and ports, separating some mixed-nationality families.

Saudi Arabia's closure of its airspace has forced Qatar Airways aircraft to fly over Iran, Riyadh's arch-rival and long-time adversary of Washington, paying significant overflight fees to Tehran in the process.

The New York Times has reported that Qatar pays $100 million annually to fly over Iran, citing diplomatic sources.

Qatar's priority was to restore free movement of its citizens to the boycotting nations, access to their airspace and reopen its only land border shared with Saudi Arabia, diplomats and sources have said.

Asked if a resolution would be bilateral or include all the Gulf states, Sheikh Mohammed said it should be "holistic" and based on mutual respect.

"No country is in a position to impose any demands on another country, whether from Qatar or from the quartet ... Each country should decide its foreign policy," he added.

READ MORE: The US needs to put its weight behind ending the Qatar crisis

Kushner's visit

US President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner is reported to have raised the Gulf crisis and pushed for progress towards ending the spat during a visit to Qatar on Wednesday.

Few details have been made public about Kushner's trip, which could have been his last chance to press diplomatic issues in the region that has been a focal point for the outgoing Trump administration.

US national security adviser Robert O'Brien said in November that allowing Qatari planes to fly over Saudi Arabia via an "air bridge" was a priority for the outgoing Trump administration.

Qatar has repeatedly said it is open to talks without preconditions, though has not signalled publicly it would compromise on the 13 demands of the boycotting countries.

Past mediation efforts led by Kuwait have yielded no results.

Turkey welcomes progress

Turkey's foreign ministry welcomed the recent positive developments to resolve tensions.

"We appreciate the sincere efforts of the Kuwaiti leaders who have undertaken intensive contacts and initiatives for the resolution of this dispute," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

"Our hope is for the resolution of this conflict through unconditional dialogue as soon as possible and for the lifting of the unjust blockade and sanctions that Qatar has been subjected to without further delay."

US hopeful that crisis will end

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday said the US is "very hopeful" that the row would be resolved, adding it is the "right thing" for the people of those countries.

Speaking at the IISS Manama Dialogue, Pompeo declined to predict when such a resolution would arrive but said Washington would continue to work to facilitate conversations and dialogue for a resolution.

READ MORE: UN official calls for end to ‘illegal’ blockade against Qatar

Source: TRTWorld and agencies