Demands made to Qatar by Saudi Arabia and its allies were meant to be rejected and to undermine Qatari sovereignty, says the country's foreign minister. But he says Doha will discuss the issues given "proper conditions."
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani tweeted Sunday that the 13 conditions imposed on Doha by Saudi Arabia and four of its allies for lifting a monthlong blockade on Qatar were not intended to be acceptable.
His tweet, which came shortly before the deadline expires Sunday evening, echoes comments he made in Italy on Saturday.
"Everyone is aware that these demands are meant to infringe the sovereignty of the state of Qatar," Sheikh Mohammed told a press conference in Rome after meeting his Italian counterpart, Angelino Alfano.
"This list of demands is made to be rejected. It's not meant to be accepted or ... to be negotiated," Sheikh Mohammed said. "The state of Qatar, instead of rejecting it as a principle, we are willing to engage in (dialogue), providing the proper conditions for further dialogue."
Egypt said on Sunday that the foreign ministers of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain will meet in Cairo on Wednesday to discuss the situation in Qatar.
"At the invitation of Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, there will be a quartet meeting of the foreign ministers of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in Cairo on Wednesday July 5 to follow up on the developing situation regarding relations with Qatar," Egypt's foreign ministry spokesman, Ahmed Abu Zeid, said in a statement.
Threat of 'divorce'
The demands, announced on June 22, include calls on Doha to end its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, to close the Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera, to reduce diplomatic ties with Iran - regarded by most Gulf states as a regional foe - and to shut down a Turkish military base in the country.
Last week, the United Arab Emirates threatened Qatar with "divorce" from its Gulf neighbors if it failed to meet the demands, saying they were non-negotiable.
The group behind the demands also includes Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt. Saudi Arabia has closed its airspace to Qatari carriers and blocked its only land border, a key route for food imports. Turkeyand Iran have backed Qatar in the crisis.
Read more: Saudi Arabia vs. Qatar vs. Iran
In Rome, Foreign Minister Alfano said the Italian government would "contribute to any initiative aimed primarily at restoring dialogue and easing tensions between those involved."
Last week, Italy called on the Saudi-led group "to refrain from any further action that could aggravate the situation."
Kuwait is the official arbitrator for seeking a settlement, though the United States is also attempting to mediate. Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly had telephone discussions on Saturday with the leaders of Qatar and Bahrain and said a diplomatic solution was needed.
tj/jm (AFP, Reuters)