Trump speaks to Qatar emir on Gulf unity

Posted September 11, 2017

Saudi and Qatari leaders held direct talks for the first time since the start of the Persian Gulf crisis three months ago, a breakthrough later undermined by a dispute over the details of the phone call.

"What the Qatari news agency reported is unrelated to the truth and continues the Qatari authorities' distortion of facts", the official Saudi news agency SPA said, citing an unnamed Saudi official.

On Friday, Qatar's Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said Doha was ready to discuss the demands made by Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, except the issues related to the country's sovereignty.

The Saudi move came just two days after US President Donald Trump spoke with the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Qatar in a bid to mediate.

"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", it added. The four countries listed 13 demands, including scaling down diplomatic ties with Iran and shutting down a Turkish military base in Qatar, to end the crisis.

"We need to bring stability in the Middle East and North Africa", Lavrov said. "The United States and Kuwait both recognize the important of GCC unity to meet the challenges of the region that we all face together, not the least of which is the threats from Iran".

Some reports say the dispute over protocol was over Qatar News Agency failing to mention that Doha had initiated the call, according to Al Jazeera.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain in June cut diplomatic, trade, air and shipping ties with Qatar, which is home to the Persian Gulf's biggest U.S. military base.

Qatari media reported that Salman and al-Thani each agreed to appoint an envoy to sit down and discuss outstanding differences, following mediation efforts by Trump. Putting such prior conditions affirms Qatar's lack of seriousness about dialogue, countering terrorism and stopping meddling in the affairs of other countries.

Qatar, hit by a land and air embargo imposed by a group of its most powerful neighbours, in early August introduced a visa-free entry programme for 80 nationalities to stimulate air transport and tourism. Qatar denied all allegations. Qatar hosts a USA military base critical to the anti-IS fight in Iraq and Syria.