Tillerson hails Kuwait's role for resolving Gulf crisis
October 22 2017 12:35 AM
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson steps off his plane as he arrives at King Salman Air Base
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson steps off his plane as he arrives at King Salman Air Base


*US Secretary of State arrives in Saudi Arabia on visit to region
*US top diplomat also to visit Qatar

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has praised the role being played by Kuwait "to diplomatically seek a resolution" to the ongoing Gulf crisis, the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) yesterday said.

Tillerson's statement came on the eve of his second visit to the region in recent months as he seeks a breakthrough in the diplomatic crisis gripping the Gulf.
Speaking at a gala dinner for UNHCR, hosted by Kuwait's ambassador to the US Sheikh Salem al-Sabah, US President Donald Trump also thanked the Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah "for all that he is doing in the region," saying "there is a lot of things happening in the Middle East". Trump lauded the Kuwaiti Emir for his influential role in the Middle East region. Trump has called for mediation and recently predicted a rapid end to the Gulf crisis.
Meanwhile, the US Secretary of State has arrived in Saudi Arabia on a trip that will take him to Qatar, Pakistan, India and Switzerland.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt cut ties with Qatar in June, accusing it of supporting terrorism. Doha denies the charge.
Tillerson made an unsuccessful attempt to resolve the dispute during a trip to the region in July.
Before his arrival at Riyadh's King Salman air base, Tillerson indicated there had been little progress in the mediation efforts. "I do not have a lot of expectations for it being resolved anytime soon," he said in an interview with financial news agency Bloomberg.
Tillerson has blamed the Saudi-led bloc that has imposed a blockade on Qatar for a lack of progress in solving the Gulf crisis.
“There seems to be a real unwillingness on the part of some of the parties to want to engage,” Tillerson said in an interview in Washington. “It’s up to the leadership of the quartet when they want to engage with Qatar because Qatar has been very clear - they’re ready to engage.”
In the interview, Tillerson emphasised that the main responsibility for a way out of the crisis now rests with the countries at the centre of it.
“Our role is to try to ensure lines of communication are as open as we can help them be, that messages not be misunderstood,” Tillerson said. “We’re ready to play any role we can to bring them together but at this point it really is now up to the leadership of those countries.”
While Qatar has repeatedly said it was ready to settle the dispute through negotiations that are based on mutual respect, the blockading countries have refused to respond.
The blockade, now in its fifth month, has failed to break Qatar's resolve to defend its sovereignty. Most of the demands made by the quartet to lift the siege are aimed at making Qatar a vassal state, observers have said.
Qatar has also maintained that whatever decisions are taken to end the stalemate must be applicable to all the parties involved in the dispute.
Aside from the Gulf dispute, Iran, the conflict in Yemen and counter-terrorism also are on Tillerson's agenda in the Gulf, the State Department said.
While in Riyadh, Tillerson will also take part in the first meeting of a Saudi-Iraqi co-ordination council, a sign of warming relations between Riyadh and Baghdad as the Saudis seek to counter Tehran's influence in Iraq.

Last updated: October 22 2017 12:44 AM

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