Qatar calls for de-escalation in US-Iran row
June 09 2019 11:47 PM
HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani
HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani

Reuters London

*Gulf crisis is not solved because one of the parties has been aiming for a zero sum game: FM
*'US needs Palestinians on board for Middle East peace plan'
*'Qatar will support any plan that the Palestinians are willing to accept'
*'Economic part of Kushner plan is wonderful but it needs a sound political foundation'

Qatar and other countries have been talking to both Iran and the United States about de-escalation, Qatar's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister HE Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said on Sunday, urging both sides to meet and find a compromise.

"We believe that at one point there should an engagement - it cannot last forever like this," he told reporters in London. "Since they are not willing to engage in further escalation, they should come up with ideas that open the doors.”

Sheikh Mohamed said several countries including Qatar, Oman, Iraq and Japan had been urging de-escalation with the two sides.

"All these countries are concerned what escalation could lead to," he said. "There were attempts by Qatar and by other countries in the region to de-escalate the situation: we have been speaking to the US and we have been talking to the Iranians as well."

"What we are trying to do is really to bridge the gap and create a conversation between the two parties as escalation is not going to benefit anyone in the region," he said.

Tensions have risen between Iran and the United States in recent weeks after Washington reimposed economic sanctions on Iran after pulling out of a big-power nuclear deal, and sending forces to the Middle East in a show of force to counter what US officials called Iranian threats to US troops and interests.

Asked about the progress made in efforts to solve the Gulf crisis, the Qatari foreign minister said nothing has changed as one of the parties has been aiming for a zero sum game. "When you have one of the parties aiming for a zero sum game , nothing will change."

On the Middle East peace plan, he said there was a disconnect between the Palestinians and the United States over a US blueprint aimed at ending the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

The US blueprint, driven by Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and White House adviser, is seen by Palestinians, and by some Arab officials and politicians, as a plan to finish off the Palestinian cause.

"As far as we see, right now there is a disconnect between the Palestinians and the US,” Qatar's foreign minister told reporters.

"Our position remains very firm: We are going to support any plan that the Palestinians are willing to accept."

Kushner, who has been trying to put together a peace plan, said in an interview broadcast last week that the Palestinians deserve "self-determination", but stopped short of backing Palestinian statehood and expressed uncertainty over their ability to govern themselves.

While its precise outlines have yet to be revealed, Palestinian and Arab sources who have been briefed on the draft plan say Kushner has jettisoned the two-state solution - the long-standing US and international formula that envisages an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza.

"It cannot be a solution like, sort of, imposed on the Palestinians - no country in the Arab world can accept that," Sheikh Mohamed said.

"If the plan is rejected by one of the parties it means the plan is either unfair or just not realistic," he said. "The best scenario is either that both parties accept it or that both parties reject it."

Sheikh Mohamed said there would not be a pledging conference. He praised the economic part of the Kushner plan as being "wonderful" but said it needed a sound political foundation.



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