Saudi Arabia suspends breakthrough talks with Qatar

Saudi Arabia suspends breakthrough talks with Qatar in about-face following leaders' conversation

3 min read
09 September, 2017
Saudi Arabia has suspended talks with Qatar after accusing it of "distorting facts" of a phone call between the leaders of the two countries.
The development came a day after Sheikh Tamim phoned US President Donald Trump [Getty]

Saudi Arabia has made an about-face suspending talks with Qatar hours after leaders of the two countries spoke directly for the first time since the start of the crisis, accusing Qatar of "distorting facts" about the conversation.

"The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announces the suspension of any dialogue or communication with the authority in Qatar until a clear statement is issued clarifying its position in public," an announcement published by the Saudi state-run SPA said.

The news agency released a statement on Saturday, claiming that Qatari state media had fabricated elements in a report on a breakthrough phone call between Qatar's emir and the Saudi Crown Prince.

"What was published on the Qatar News Agency is a continuation of the distortion of the Qatari authority of the facts," SPA said, citing an unnamed Saudi official at the ministry of the foreign affairs.

The Qatar News Agency (QNA) said earlier that Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani had phoned Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, on the basis of coordination with US President Donald Trump.

In the phone call, the two leaders "stressed the need to resolve this crisis" through dialogue "to ensure the unity and stability" of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), QNA said.

The Qatari emir welcomed a proposal by the Saudi crown prince to assign two envoys to resolve the dispute in a way that does not infringe on Doha's sovereignty, QNA added.

The Saudi state-run SPA news agency reported that the leaders agreed "to discuss the demands of the four countries to ensure the interests of all" but made no mention of the envoys.

The agency said that Mohammed bin Salman has welcomed the calls to begin dialogue over the worst diplomatic crisis to hit the region in decades.

It added that the talks would kick off once Riyadh has "concluded an understanding" with its allies which broke off diplomatic contact with Doha in June.

The development came a day after Sheikh Tamim phoned US President Donald Trump to discuss the latest developments in the Gulf crisis, in the wake of a visit by Kuwait's emir to the White House.

Saudi Arabia as well as the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar, accusing it of bankrolling Islamist extremist groups and of being too close to Iran.

The Saudi-led bloc also shut down air, maritime and land links and imposed economic sanctions on Qatar.

On June 22, the group issued a 13-point list of demands, including the shutdown of Al Jazeera and the London-based The New Arab, limiting ties with Iran and expelling Turkish troops stationed in the country as a prerequisite to lifting the blockade.

The gas-rich emirate denies the claims and has accused the four countries of attacking its sovereignty with their demands.