Qatar, Saudi-led bloc leaders to soon meet with Trump
The leaders of Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will soon meet with US President Donald Trump, amid efforts by Washington to resolve a diplomatic dispute in the Gulf.
Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan will visit Trump in March and April, senior US officials told Reuters on Saturday.
They told the news agency that the discussions will focus on setting up a Gulf Cooperation Council summit later this year as well as Middle East peace and Iran.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE and their allies launched a diplomatic boycott of Qatar and closed their frontiers last year, accusing the gas-rich emirate of cosying up to Iran and sponsoring Islamist groups.
Doha has categorically denied the charges and accused the anti-Doha alliance of attempting to curtail its sovereignty
"We would hope the dispute is resolved before the summit to allow maximum focus on other strategic concerns like Iran," a US official said.
The report comes amid calls from Washington for Gulf unity.
Last month, the US praised Qatar for its counterterrorism cooperation and warned that the Gulf rift has hurt the fight against extremism.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defence Secretary Jim Mattis have been working to bring the dispute to an end and bind both Qatar and its opponents into a deeper mutual alliance.
Qatar plans to expand the major military base used by US forces to make it more comfortable for Americans, as the tiny gas-rich nation seeks to hedge closer US ties.
Early in the Gulf crisis, in which four of Qatar's neighbours accused it of fomenting regional unrest and cut ties, President Donald Trump sided with Saudi Arabia and the others and echoed their claim that Qatar funds terrorism.
As the stalemate has lingered on, the Trump administration has softened that rhetoric while praising Qatar for modest steps taken to address US concerns.