*FM says there is no sign of a breakthrough in the Gulf crisis
HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani has said there was no sign of a breakthrough in the Gulf crisis so far.
In an interview with US media network Bloomberg, HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs said no movement or further steps have been made since the GCC Summit in Riyadh last month in which some breakthrough was expected, stressing that Qatar remains open to dialogue and is still carrying on with its own national agenda.
Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman affirmed that there was no alternative to the GCC countries for Qatar, and said Qatar believes in the strength of the authority of the GCC since its establishment.
"Turkey, Iran and Iraq are important parts of the region and Qatar needs to build strong relationships and partnerships with other countries in the region. Qatar needs to have positive and constructive relations with those countries and this is not because of the blockade but it is a part of Qatar's strategy to maintain its friendly relations with all countries in the region," the foreign minister said.
He noted that Qatar may have differences and disagreements with those countries, "but Iran is a neighbouring country at the end of the day, and Qatar shares gas fields with it", adding that Iran opened its skies when the blockading countries closed their airspace in front of the Qatari people. "Therefore, it is important to engage with all these countries, and Qatar remains open with the GCC crisis and without the GCC crisis."
HE Sheikh Mohamed expressed the hope that the GCC countries, especially the blockading countries, "go back to reason, start to engage with their region and resolve this issue".
Asked if Qatar would consider closer relationships with Iran, Iraq and Turkey if the blockade persists, HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs said that Qatar has already strong strategic relations with Turkey. "We stood next to each other during difficult times. When Turkey went through a difficult time Qatar stood by it, and when Qatar went through a difficult time Turkey stood by it; we have this strategy."
He continued: "Iraq is also a part of our region, and we welcome Iraq back to the Arab world as a stable nation and we are trying to help in stabilising this nation. A closer relationship with Iraq is a plus for Qatar."
Regarding Iran, the Foreign Minister said: "Iran is a part of our geography, and we hope also that the GCC countries start to engage with Iran in a positive and constructive dialogue to resolve this outstanding issue of our regional security which is impacting our security directly and indirectly."
On Qatar's decision to invest $500mn in Lebanese government bonds, he said: "Lebanon's stability is our region's stability and it's very important for Qatar," adding that "Qatar has been an active player regionally in stabilising different countries, and Lebanon is one among them".
He said His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani attended the Arab Economic Summit in Beirut earlier this week and had a discussion with the Lebanese president, "and the Lebanese explained their situation that any help in buying the government bonds would help stabilise their economy".
"We took our decision, both based on our assessment to stabilise Lebanon and also as an investment decision; this is a good investment."
The Foreign Minister said Lebanon had never defaulted in paying interests, and said: "We are going to work it out together. We have trust and confidence in the economy and the people of Lebanon, and that they will stand and flourish again."