US envoys seek to shift Qatar dispute from list of 13 demands – reports

The two envoys are seeking a solution based on a series of broader principles proposed by Saudi and its allies last month



US envoys seeking to resolve the Qatar crisis are trying to shift the focus of talks away from a list of 13 demands put together by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, according to reports.

Bloomberg cited a Gulf official as saying retired former head of US Central Command general Anthony Zinni and senior State Department official Timothy Lenderkingar were promoting a solution based on a plan laid out by US secretary of state Rex Tillerson and six broad principles including combatting terrorism.

This followed the issuing of the broader demands by Saudi and its allies in July that did not include specific measures like the closing of broadcaster Al Jazeera and a Turkish military base in Qatar set out previously.

Red: Saudi, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt reduce Qatar demands to six ‘principles’

The group later reinstated their original 13 demands impacting negotiations led by Kuwait and the US.

The two envoys met with Kuwaiti officials on Monday and are due to travel to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, before heading to Qatar, according to the source.

The dispute has left the US in a difficult position as an ally to countries on both sides of the dispute. Qatar is also home to a substantial US base housing more than 10,000 troops.

Read: Tillerson ends talks in Jeddah, Qatar crisis drags on

Other reports on Tuesday suggested Kuwait was also increasing efforts to resolve the dispute, which began on June 5 with the closing of air, land and sea links to Qatar by Saudi Arabia and its allies.

Kuwait’s foreign minister and state minister for cabinet affairs visited Saudi Arabia and Egypt on Monday as envoys of Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, who has strived to mediate the dispute.

They will also fly to Oman, the UAE and Bahrain on Tuesday.

“Despite the scepticism, confusion and media clamour, Kuwait’s principled position is to mediate to resolve the dispute within the Gulf framework and not to open the doors to gaps that could facilitate regional interference,” sources told Kuwaiti publication Al Rai.

Ratings agency Moody’s lowered its outlook for Qatar’s banking system this week from stable to negative due to the weakening operating conditions and continued funding pressures associated with the country’s isolation by its neighbours.

Read: Moody’s downgrades outlook on Qatar’s banking system to negative

As a sign the dispute was deemed unlikely to be resolved any time soon, officials from Qatar, Turkey and Iran met in Tehran on Saturday to discuss plans to expand economic cooperation.

The two countries have taken Qatar’s side in the the spat and provided it with food imports and other goods after the closing of traditional supply routes via Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Iran’s Tasnim News Agency reports that the three sides discussed the expansion of trade interaction and the possibility of shipping Turkish goods to Qatar over land through Iran in a sign Doha was considering long-term changes to its traditional shipping lines.

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