RIYADH (Dispatches) – Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister has signaled progress may be underway towards resolving the three-year-old rift with its Persian Gulf neighbor Qatar, following a meeting in Washington with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
In 2017, Saudi Arabia along with United Arab Emirates (UAE) Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic and trade ties with Doha and imposed a sea, land and air blockade on the gas-rich nation.
"We are committed to finding a solution,” Prince Faisal bin Farhan said in a virtual discussion hosted by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think-tank.
"We continue to be willing to engage with our Qatari brothers, and we hope that they are as committed to that engagement.
"But we do need to address the legitimate security concerns of the quartet and I think there is a path toward that” with a solution "in the relatively near future,” said Prince Faisal.
"If we are able to find a path forward to address the legitimate security concerns … that drove us to take the decisions we took, that will be good news for the region,” he added.
The four blockading nations accused Qatar of supporting "terrorism” and meddling in their internal affairs for years. Qatar has vehemently denied those claims.
Several past attempts to end the dispute have failed, as Qatar has rejected the blockading nations’ demands that include shutting down Al Jazeera Media Network, limiting ties with Iran and expelling Turkish troops stationed in the country.
Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani has said that his country is ready for dialogue to resolve the diplomatic crisis, but stressed that any solution to the crisis must respect his country’s sovereignty.
In June, Kuwait, a mediator between Qatar and its quartet of Persian Gulf Arab neighbors, said there was progress towards resolving the standoff but little progress has been done.
Last December, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said early talks with Saudi Arabia had broken the impasse but a month later he said that efforts to resolve the dispute were unsuccessful.