The Latest: UN chief working to resolve Gulf dispute
Posted June 12
DOHA, Qatar — The Latest on developments related to the diplomatic crisis engulfing energy-rich Qatar (all times local):
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is working behind the scenes to help resolve the dispute between Qatar and its Arab neighbors.
U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters Monday that Guterres "has been in touch with people as have other U.N. officials. We're not going to specify the nature of those conversations."
Last Thursday, Guterres urged countries in the region "to avoid escalating tensions and work instead to overcome their differences," U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
Dujarric said the secretary-general was encouraging diplomacy "to address concerns and is ready to support such efforts, if desired by all parties."
Last week, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain accused Qatar of supporting terrorism and severed ties. Qatar denies the allegations, but its ties to Iran and embrace of various Islamist groups have put the country under intense scrutiny.
Eritrea has expressed support for Saudi Arabia and its allies after they cut ties with Qatar.
The Eritrean Information Ministry's statement of support on Monday came despite its previously close ties with energy-rich Qatar.
The statement said the initiative by Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates "is not confined to Qatar alone as the potential of Qatar is very limited," but is "one initiative among many in the right direction that envisages full realization of regional security and stability."
The three countries along with Bahrain cut ties to Qatar last week and have moved to block air, land and sea routes to the energy-rich Gulf nation.
Both Saudi and Qatari officials appear to be seeking support from Ethiopia. Qatari officials met Monday with Ethiopia's prime minister and Saudi officials visited the Ethiopian capital over the weekend.
Qatar's foreign minister is welcoming diplomatic efforts to calm the Gulf standoff over alleged Qatari support for Islamic extremists — but insists that no one can dictate its foreign policy.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said Monday that Qatar is in contact with international aviation authorities and legal organizations as it tries to fight back against moves by Saudi Arabia and its allies to cut off its land, air and sea access.
Speaking after diplomatic meetings in Paris, Al Thani said Qatar is ready to negotiate anything "related to the collective security of the Gulf countries" but insisted that Qatari foreign policy is not open to debate.
He also said "no one has the right" to pressure Qatar to silence TV network Al Jazeera, which is based in Doha.
Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates cut diplomatic ties with Qatar last week. Al Thani has visited multiple European countries in recent days seeking diplomatic support.
Pakistan's prime minister and army chief are heading to Saudi Arabia, where they hope to help ease tensions related to the Gulf diplomatic crisis.
Pakistani TV showed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa arriving in Riyadh on Monday.
Islamabad has longstanding, close ties to Saudi Arabia, but is also involved in recent business ventures in gas-rich Qatar. Sharif is considered close to the royal families in both countries.
Saudi Arabia and its allies cut diplomatic ties with Qatar last week and have moved to sever air, land and sea routes to the country. They accuse Qatar of supporting terrorist groups, charges denied by Doha.
Saudi Arabia's Flynas has waded into the kingdom's row with Qatar, making a pitch to poach Saudi staff working for the much larger Qatar Airways.
In a post on Twitter Monday, the small budget airline says it welcomes applications from Saudi nationals working for Qatar Airways on the Airbus A320.
Last week, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed ties with Qatar. The Arab states blocked direct flights with Qatar and all except Bahrain barred Qatari flights from using their airspace.
Qatar Airways offices were closed in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Qatar Airways was forced to cancel direct flights to those countries, which serve as a significant source of passenger traffic for the airline.
Iran's Foreign Ministry has urged the Arab nations who have cut ties to Qatar to negotiate an end to the crisis.
Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghasemi tells reporters in a weekly news conference: "These countries should try to settle their differences at the negotiating table in a positive and comprehensive process."
The diplomatic crisis, the worst since the 1990 invasion of Kuwait by Iraq and the subsequent Gulf War, has seen Arab nations and others cut ties to Qatar, which hosts a major U.S. military base and will be the host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Ghasemi also says of the countries involved: "They should move toward peace and stability in the region and we invite them to negotiating and exercising restraint."
French President Emmanuel Macron is trying to boost France's diplomatic profile in the Middle East and reconcile tensions between Qatar and its neighbors over allegations Qatar funds Islamic extremists.
Macron's office says he has held a series of conversations over the past week with the emir of Qatar, the king of Saudi Arabia, the Turkish president and the crown prince of Abu Dhabi. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is scheduled to talk Monday with his Qatari counterpart.
Macron's office says that the French leader called for a de-escalation of tensions, and stressed the importance of regional stability and joining forces to fight terrorism.
Qatar's neighbors cut ties with the country over accusations that it sponsors Islamic extremism, which Qatar denies. France has economic and military ties with Qatar and other Gulf states.
Qatar says it has begun shipping cargo through to Oman to bypass Gulf countries that have cut off sea routes to the tiny, energy rich nation.
Qatar's port authority published video Monday showing a ship arriving at Doha's Hamad Port from Oman's port of Sohar.
Typically, cargo for Qatar stops at Dubai's massive deep-water Jebel Ali port, then gets put on smaller boats heading to Doha. But since June 5, the UAE has joined Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt in cutting off sea traffic to Qatar as part of the nations cutting diplomatic ties.
Qatar's port authority says its cargo will go through Sohar, as well as Oman's port at Salalah.
Meanwhile, Iran's state-run IRNA news agency has said two Iranian navy vessels will stop off in Oman soon.