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Qatari, Saudi leaders agree to talks in first phone call since Gulf crisis began Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Qatari, Saudi leaders agree to talks in first phone call since Gulf crisis began

The breakthrough comes a day after Sheikh Tamim phoned US President Donald Trump [Getty]

Date of publication: 9 September, 2017

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Qatar and Saudi Arabia have agreed to hold talks to discuss a blockade imposed on Doha by a Saudi-led bloc of Arab states.

Qatar's emir and Saudi Arabia's crown prince have agreed to hold talks over a blockade imposed on Doha by a Saudi-led bloc of Arab states following a phone conversation, according to state media from both countries.

Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on Friday phoned Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, on the basis of coordination with US President Donald Trump, the Qatar News Agency [QNA] reported.

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.

SPA later issued a statement contradicting the Qatari account of the conversation, an indication of how far the two countries have to go before the row will be resolved.

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.

The talks will kick off once Riyadh has "concluded an understanding" with its allies which broke off diplomatic contact with Doha in June.

The breakthrough comes 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.

During Thursday's phone call, the emir of Qatar welcomed Trump's position on the need to resolve this crisis through dialogue to ensure the unity of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), according to Qatar's state media.

A statement published by the White House on Friday said that Trump "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 combatting extremist ideology".

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.

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