Trump still wants Gulf leaders to end Qatar blockade

Trump still wants a summit of Gulf leaders to resolve Qatar blockade
2 min read
20 March, 2018
The US president is still seeking to organise a summit of Arab Gulf leaders to resolve the ongoing blockade of Qatar, a senior US official said on Monday.
Donald Trump will seek to hold a Gulf summit to resolve the Qatar crisis [AFP]
President Donald Trump is still hoping to organise a summit of Arab Gulf leaders to resolve the ongoing blockade of Qatar, a senior US official said on Monday.

The source said that Trump believes unity among Gulf states in the Middle East is "critical".

The senior administration official was briefing reporters before Trump’s meeting on Tuesday with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The crown prince is touring the US to launch himself as the de-facto king of Saudi Arabia and brandish his image as a 'reformer' despite his ongoing power grab in the kingdom.

The official, in remarks quoted by Reuters, said Trump had wanted Qatar and Gulf Cooperation Council members to settle their dispute on their own but is now much more concerned about the long-term impact in the region.

The official also said Trump and top aides would seek more commercial deals for US companies.

Bin Salman is set to arrive in Washington DC on Tuesday with President Donald Trump hosting the crown prince for a welcome lunch.

The first few days of bin Salman's trip are expected to focus on the deluge of regional issues such as the war in Yemen, the Iranian nuclear deal and potentially Washington's long-awaited Israel-Palestine peace plan, dubbed the "deal of the century" by Trump.

It is still unclear whether the Saudi prince will meet newly-appointed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is considered closer to Saudi Arabia on key regional issues than his predecessor Rex Tillerson, particularly regarding the blockade of Qatar and the Iran nuclear deal.

But his two-and-half week US tour also includes meetings with an array of prominent figures from the technology and film industries.

Just as in the UK, protesters in New York City and elsewhere have held rallies denouncing Saudi Arabia's "blood-soaked" military operation in Yemen, using the hashtag #SaudiPrinceNotWelcome.

Hopes that the GCC crisis might be resolved during bin Salman's visit were dashed when the prince compared the diplomatic spat to the US embargo on Cuba.

He warned, during his recent visit to Egypt, that the blockade on Qatar "could last a long time".

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt allege Doha supports terrorism - a charge it categorically denies - and imposed sanctions including closing their land, sea and air borders to Qatar.

The Saudi-led bloc has issued Qatar with a list of demands, including shutting down media outlets Al Jazeera and London-based The New Arab, curbing relations with Iran, and closing a Turkish military base in the emirate.

Read more:
Trump, a mediator in the GCC crisis?