Saudi Arabia says it has suspended dialogue with Qatar, shortly after a phone call between the Qatari leader and the Saudi crown prince.
The two sides had discussed holding talks to resolve the Qatar crisis, which has seen Doha cut off from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE.
However, Saudi Arabia then accused Qatar of distorting facts about the call, and said it was ending talks.
The four countries say Qatar supports terrorism – something Doha denies. The row led to all four Arab nations cutting ties with Qatar on 5 June – Saudi Arabia closed its land border with Qatar, while all four countries cut air and sea links with the country.
“What the Qatar News Agency published did not have any relevance to truth, and what was published by the Qatar News Agency is a continuation of the distortion by the Qatari authority of the facts,” a Saudi official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
Qatari doublespeak and chicanery are among the reasons that Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed ties with Doha in June. They accused Qatar of supporting regional extremist organizations and terrorist groups, and want the country to change its policies as a condition for dialogue.
Qatar’s distortion of the facts “clearly shows that the Qatari authority has not yet understood that Saudi Arabia is not ready at all to tolerate the change by the Qatari authority of agreements and facts. This is evident in the distortion of the content of the contact received by the crown prince from the emir of Qatar, minutes after its completion,” said the ministry official.
“The contact was at the request of Qatar and its request for dialogue with the four countries on the demands, and because this proves that the authority in Qatar is not serious in dialogue and continues its previous policies, 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 and its public statements are in conformity with its obligations.
“The Kingdom affirms that the floundering of the Qatari policy does not enhance the confidence needed for dialogue,” the ministry official added.
The call between the Saudi crown prince and Qatari emir came a day after US President Donald Trump offered to serve as a mediator to help resolve the dispute.
The White House on Friday said Trump spoke separately to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and to the leaders of the UAE and Qatar to convey the message that unity among Washington’s Arab partners was essential to promoting regional stability and countering the threat of Iran.
“The president also emphasized that all countries must follow through on commitments… to defeat terrorism, cut off funding for terrorist groups, and combat extremist ideology,” it said.
One Middle East analyst observed: “Like so many times in the past, Qatar turned the breeze of hope into a heap of ash in a matter of minutes, through subterfuge.”
Trump speaks to Qatar emir on Gulf unity
WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump stressed to the emir of Qatar the importance of unity in fighting terrorism, the White House said on Friday, a day after Trump offered to mediate the Gulf country’s dispute with its Arab neighbors.
In a telephone call Thursday with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, “the president underscored the importance of all countries following through on commitments from the Riyadh Summit to maintain unity while defeating terrorism, cutting off funding for terrorist groups, and combating extremist ideology,” the White House said.
They also discussed the continued threat Iran poses to regional stability, it said.
Meanwhile, the Anti-Terror Quartet (ATQ), comprising Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE, maintained a tough line.