Qatari and Saudi Arabian leaders start new dispute

AP, DUBAI, United Arab Emirates

Sun, Sep 10, 2017 - Page 4

Leaders in Qatar and Saudi Arabia yesterday spoke by telephone in their first high-level contact since an Arab diplomatic crisis engulfed Doha three months ago, but now even terms of what they discussed have created a new dispute.

That even this small step toward a resolution creates new tension shows how deeply the boycott of Qatar has cut across the typically clubby politics of the Persian Gulf states.

The call also comes after the Kuwaiti emir, who so far has been unsuccessful in mediating the dispute, on Thursday met in the White House with US president, who himself offered to personally arbitrate.

Both governments acknowledged a call between Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, next in line to the kingdom’s throne, and Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. After the call, the state-run Saudi Press Agency said Mohammed would talk to Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates — the other Arab nations boycotting Qatar — and then release details.

The state-run Qatar News Agency immediately published details of the call, saying that Riyadh and Doha had agreed to send two envoys to discuss the dispute.

Qatar said that the call came after the US president personally spoke with Sheikh Tamim.

The White House earlier acknowledged the president spoke with Sheikh Tamim and Mohammed, as well as Abu Dhabi’s crown prince.

The Saudi and Qatari leaders “stressed the need to resolve this crisis by sitting down to the dialogue to ensure the unity and stability” of Gulf nations, the Qatar News Agency said.

Saudi Arabia reacted angrily to the Qatari statement, issuing a second message saying Doha’s statement did not have “any relevance to truth.”

“This proves that the authority in Qatar is not serious in dialogue and continues its previous policies,” the Saudi Press Agency said. “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia declares that any dialogue or communication with the authority in Qatar shall be suspended until a clear statement explaining its position is made in public.”

The Qatar crisis began on June 5, with boycotting nations cutting off Doha’s land, sea and air routes over its alleged support of extremists and ties to Iran.