ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Qatar’s foreign minister said Friday it would be unfair to describe U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s shuttle diplomacy to find a solution for a major feud in the Persian Gulf as a failure, insisting that the crisis “cannot be solved in a day.”
During a joint news conference with his Turkish counterpart, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani also told reporters in Ankara that Qatar would continue to work with the United States and Kuwait to end the standoff with its four Arab neighbors.
Tillerson concluded his mediation efforts on Thursday, making no promise of an imminent breakthrough but voicing optimism that Qatar and its neighbors might soon be willing to talk face to face.
“There is no criterion or evidence that indicates that (Tillerson’s visit) was a failure,” al-Thani said. “We cannot expect such a tense crisis to be solved in a day.”
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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, whose nation has supported Qatar in the dispute, said he believed a solution would be possible “in the mid-term.”
The Qatari minister again denied accusations his nation provides support to terror groups, accusing the four Arab states lined up against Doha of failing to provide “single evidence” against the tiny oil-rich nation.
Cavusoglu said that under a recent pact, Qatar agreed with the U.S. to strengthen its counterterrorism efforts, citing this as evidence of Doha’s “sincerety” in countering extremist groups.
Qatar vehemently denies allegation of supporting extremist groups, though it has provided aid that helps Islamist groups that others have branded as terrorists, such as the Muslim Brotherhood and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates say the counterterrorism agreement does not go far enough to end the dispute.
The Arab quartet insists that Qatar agree to a 13-point list of demands, including shutting down Qatar’s flagship Al-Jazeera network and other news outlets, cutting ties with Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, limiting Qatar’s ties with Iran and expelling Turkish troops stationed in the tiny Gulf country.
The White House said that President Donald Trump spoke on Friday from Air Force One with Saudi King Salman and that the two discussed the recent diplomatic efforts to resolve the Arab quartet’s dispute with Qatar. In particular, the statement said, Trump emphasized the need to cut all funding for terrorism and discredit extremist ideology.