UAE's envoy to US Yousef Al Otaiba says there is a commitment to "tone things down" in resolving Gulf Arab row and ending blockade of Doha by four regional countries.
UAE's envoy to Washington has said there has been "seeds of progress" in resolving a long-running Gulf Arab row and a commitment to "tone things down" as the parties work for a solution to end the rift with neighbouring Qatar.
Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba's comments on Tuesday to a US think-tank was more cautious than those of ally Saudi Arabia, whose foreign minister said last week that significant progress had been made and that a final agreement was within reach.
"I think there's definitely progress or at least there are seeds of progress," Otaiba told the Hudson Institute via videolink in Abu Dhabi's most concrete remarks since Kuwait on Friday announced movement towards a resolution.
"There's a lot of commitments .. to kind of tone things down, to stand down. If that holds I think it is promising. I think there is a chance that you can at least begin a process of deconflicting," Otaiba said, adding that time would tell whether this would hold to enable "some kind of concept of a solution".
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt have imposed a diplomatic, trade and travel embargo on Qatar since mid-2017 despite mediation efforts by Kuwait and the United States, which says the dispute hampers a united Gulf front against Iran.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is comprised of six member states – the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, and Qatar.
Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan told last week that the kingdom and its allies were "on board" to resolve the diplomatic crisis.
A full-fledged Gulf summit?
Otaiba's remarks came after Anwar Gargash, the Emirates' minister of state for foreign affairs said on Tuesday that UAE "supports Saudi Arabia's benevolent efforts on behalf of the four countries."
"It looks forward to a successful Gulf summit," Gargash said, referring to a meeting of the GCC regional bloc expected later this month.
Gargash also said his country appreciated efforts by Kuwait and the United States, countries which have both played mediation roles.
Qatar has also been more cautious in public remarks, with its foreign minister voicing hope that things would move in the right direction.
تثمن الإمارات جهود الكويت الشقيقة والمساعي الأمريكية نحو تعزيز التضامن في الخليج العربي، وتدعم المساعي السعودية الخيرة وبالنيابة عن الدول الاربع، وتؤكد على أن علاقات مجلس التعاون مع مصر الشقيقة ركن أساسي في المحافظة على الأمن العربي وإستقرار المنطقة، وتتطلع إلى قمة خليجية ناجحة.— د. أنور قرقاش (@AnwarGargash) December 8, 2020
Saudi Arabia led its allies to cut ties with Qatar because it viewed Doha as being too close to Iran and accused it of funding militant movements.
Qatar, which hosts the region's largest US military base, denies the charge and says the embargo aims to undermine its sovereignty.
The Saudi-led quartet 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.
Doha was given 13 demands, ranging from closing Al Jazeera television and shuttering a Turkish base to cutting links to the Muslim Brotherhood and downgrading ties with Iran.