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Talks possible if Qatar complies says Gulf bloc

July 31, 2017

Gulf leaders in Bahrain have said talks with Qatar are possible but Doha must take demands seriously. On the sidelines, the Saudis accused Qatar of making a 'declaration of war' over holy sites.

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan (L), Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir (R), Foreign Minister of Egypt Sameh Shoukry (2nd L) and Foreign Minister of Bahrain Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa (2nd R) hold a joint press conference after their meeting in Manama, Bahrain
Image: Picture alliance/abaca/Stringer

Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates said on Sunday they were willing to  hold discussions with Qatar to mend ties but only if it showed willingness to change course and comply with their demands.

Foreign ministers of the four Arab states met for the second time since cutting ties with Qatar over accusations it supports extremists and interferes in the affairs of other Arab states.

The four ministers held a joint press conference in Bahrain's capital, Manama, to say the bloc would continue its measures against Qatar, but would not introduce new sanctions.

Read more: What is the Qatar crisis?

Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa read a joint statement insisting that Qatar comply with a previous list of 13 demands.

"The four countries are ready for dialogue with Qatar on condition it announces its sincere desire to stop supporting and funding terrorism ... and implements the 13 demands that ensure peace and stability in the region and world," the Bahraini minister said.

The Saudi-led bloc issued its list of 13 demands in June, asking Doha to end its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, shut down the Al Jazeera television channel, close a Turkish military base and limit its ties with Iran.

Read more: Erdogan travels to Gulf region to help mend rift between Qatar and its neighbors

Saudi threats over Qatar reports on holy sites

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on Sunday that Qatar was not taking its demands seriously.

"We are ready to talk with Qatar on the implementation of the demands, on the implementation of the principles, if Qatar is serious, but it has been clear that it is not," he said.

Read more: Qatar changes anti-terror legislation amid Gulf crisis

That same day he said Qatar had committed an act of war by allegedly demanding the internationalization of the Muslim hajj pilgrimage.

"Qatar's demands to internationalize the holy sites is aggressive and a declaration of war against the kingdom," Adel al-Jubeir was quoted saying on Al Arabiya's website.

"We reserve the right to respond to anyone who is working on the internationalization of the holy sites," he said.

Qatar denial

But Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said his country had made no such call.

"We are tired of responding to false information and stories invented from nothing," Sheikh Mohammed told Al Jazeera TV.

He dismissed Sunday's joint statement and said the sanctions were violating international laws.

"There isn't a clear vision (from Manama's meeting), there is only a stubborn policy from the blockading countries and a refusal to admit that these are illegal actions," he told Al Jazeera.

aw/jm (AFP, AP, dpa)

Summarizing the crisis: Qatar expert Nicolas Bremer