US secretary of state Rex Tillerson has said Qatar will find it “very difficult” to comply with a list of demands submitted by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt to end the country’s isolation in the Gulf.
Speaking on Sunday, Tillerson said the demands could be the basis of talks, according to Bloomberg.
“A productive next step would be for each of the countries to sit together and continue this conversation,” Tillerson was quoted as saying.
“We believe our allies and partners are stronger when they are working together towards one goal which we all agree is stopping terrorism and countering extremism. A lowering of rhetoric would also help ease the tension.”
The US secretary of state had previously called on Saudi Arabia and its allies to spell out their demands following measures by the countries to isolate Qatar diplomatically and economically on June 5.
This resulted in a list of 13 demands being submitted including closing news broadcaster Al Jazeera, reducing ties with Iran and shutting down a Turkish military base.
Tillerson said Qatar was reviewing the requests and they would provide a basis for continuing talks but admitted some would be “very difficult for Qatar to meet”.
In particular the demands relating to other countries are believed to be particularly contentious, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan describing the call for the shutting of the base as “disrespectful” after the country’s parliament fast tracked plans to expand its military presence in Qatar.
“We don’t need permission from anyone to establish military bases among partners. We endorse and appreciate Qatar’s stance towards the 13 demands. It’s a very, very ugly approach to try to interfere with our agreement,” he said.
On Saturday, UAE minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, told reporters that if Qatar failed to meet the demands within the 10-day timeline there would be a “parting of ways” without specifying further measures.