France offers assistance in resolving 'concerning' Qatar blockade

France offers assistance in resolving 'concerning' Qatar blockade
2 min read
15 July, 2017
France has offered to facilitate the Kuwait-led crisis talks to resolve the dispute between Qatar and four Arab states who are enforcing a sea, land and air blockade on Doha.
France wants to assist Kuwait-led mediation on the crisis between Qatar and four other Arab states.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in Doha on Saturday that "France should be a facilitator in the mediation", following talks with his Qatari counterpart Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani.

Le Drian flew in to Qatar at the start of a Gulf tour aimed at helping defuse the crisis pitting Qatar against Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt.

"France is very concerned by the sudden deterioration in relations between Qatar and many of its neighbours," said Le Drian, who also met with the emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.

"France is talking to all these countries to help in the search for a solution," he said, calling for "dialogue and calm" between the Arab states concerned.

Le Drian is to travel on to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE, following a four-day mediation mission by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that ended on Thursday without any announcement of progress towards defusing mounting tensions in the Gulf.

Qatar's foreign minister welcomed France's support for mediation aimed at finding a solution "based on constructive dialogue... and respect of state sovereignty and international law".

"We look forward to France's support of the Kuwaiti mediation and American efforts," he said. 

Riyadh and its allies imposed sanctions on Doha on June 5, including closing its only land border, denying Qatar access to their airspace and ordering their citizens back from the emirate.

They accused Qatar of supporting terrorism, having close relations with Iran, and using exiled activists and media outlets to attack Arab regimes.

Doha denies the charges, while the US and European powers have quietly backed Qatar in the dispute.

Combatting terrorism also cannot be through practising political and intellectual terrorism against a state

Le Drian said France counted on "reinforcing cooperation with Qatar in the fight against terrorism, particularly in combatting terrorism financing".

His Qatari host said the fight against terrorism needed collective efforts and "cannot be shouldered by one state".

"Combatting terrorism also cannot be through practising political and intellectual terrorism against a state," Sheikh Mohammed said, in reference to measures taken against Doha by its neighbours.

The alliance issued a 13-point ultimatum to Qatar last month, which included demands to close a Turkish military base, shuttering al-Jazeera media network, and ending relations with Iran.

Qatar called the demands "unreasonable" and said it infringed on its "sovereignty".