Boris Johnson urges Gulf states against 'unwelcome' Qatar blockade during Kuwait visit
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson landed in Kuwait on Saturday, to meet representatives from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait to discuss the ongoing blockade imposed on Doha.
Johnson met his Kuwaiti counterpart Sheikh Sabah Khaled al-Hamad al-Sabah, and the country’s cabinet affairs minister Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah al-Sabah.
"What people need to see is de-escalation and progress towards tackling the funding of terrorism in the region, and progress toward an end to this blockade," Johnson said, voicing support for Kuwait as a mediator in the crisis.
Johnson said it was "highly unlikely" that the current standoff would descend into military conflict.
"Everybody I have talked to said the opposite. No possibility of a military confrontation," he said.
"The blockade is unwelcome and we hope there will be a de-escalation," he added.
At the start of his diplomatic mission to the Middle East, Johnson confirmed the UK's "close and historic friendship with all of the Gulf states" which he described as "becoming even more relevant and important in today’s volatile world.”
“As our Prime Minister has said, ‘the Gulf’s security is our security’, and we remain deeply committed to the stability of the region and to working with our friends in the Gulf to keep all of our people safe.
“These talks underline the UK’s strong support for Kuwait’s mediation efforts and I urge all parties to play a constructive role in order to restore the unity of the Gulf Cooperation Council,” he said, urging all parties to get behind Kuwait’s mediation efforts in an effort to resolve the dispute.
On Friday, Johnson met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.
He confirmed the UK was supporting Kuwait’s efforts to broker a solution to the row which has seen Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar.
Johnson is expected to travel onto Qatar for meetings with the Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, along with the Gulf state’s prime minister and foreign minister.
In June, the four states announced the severing of all diplomatic ties with Qatar over allegations the emirate allegedly bankrolled Islamist extremists and had close ties with Saudi Arabia's arch-rival Iran.
Qatar, which denies being a supporter of extremism, rejects the "unrealistic" demands as an attempt by the Gulf states to undermine the nation's sovereignty.