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Qatar renews call for 'unconditional dialogue' with Gulf states

Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani also said Gulf blockade of Qatar has hurt 'War on Terror' efforts
Qatar's Sheikh Tamim renewed the call 'for an unconditional dialogue based on mutual respect for sovereignty' (Reuters)

Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani on Tuesday renewed a call for "unconditional dialogue" to end a political crisis pitting his country against four Arab states, but it was not clear his overture would thaw the dispute.

Speaking from the podium of the 193-member United Nations General Assembly, Sheikh Tamim renewed the call "for an unconditional dialogue based on mutual respect for sovereignty".

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain cut diplomatic and trade links with Qatar on 5 June, suspending air and shipping routes with the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas, which is home to the region’s biggest US military base.

The nations say Doha supports Iran and militant groups, charges Qatar’s leaders deny. Kuwait has been trying to mediate the dispute and the United States has taken an increasingly robust role in trying to bring an end to the crisis, but as yet to no avail.

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In a speech severely criticising the four Arab states' conduct during the dispute, the emir said the countries were inflicting damage on the "War on Terror".

"The countries who imposed the blockade on the State of Qatar interfere in the internal affairs of many countries, and accuse all those who oppose them domestically and abroad with terrorism. By doing they are inflicting damage on the war on terror," Sheikh Tamim said in his speech to the annual gathering of world leaders.

"We have refused to yield to dictations by pressure and siege."

Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia suspended any dialogue with Qatar, accusing it of “distorting facts,” just after a report of a phone call between the leaders of both countries suggested a breakthrough in the Gulf dispute.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman spoke by telephone with Qatar’s emir in the first publicly-reported contact between the two leaders since the start of the crisis.

US President Donald Trump has said he would be willing to mediate the worst dispute in decades among the US-allied Arab states and Qatar and that he thinks a deal could come quickly.

Trump said on Tuesday he thought the dispute between Qatar and some of its Arab neighbours would be resolved quickly.

"We are right now in a situation where we're trying to solve a problem in the Middle East. And I think we'll get it solved, I have a very strong feeling that it will be solved pretty quickly," Trump said in New York as he met Qatar's emir.

Separately, Saudi Arabia and UAE considered invading Qatar, only to have the idea rejected by Trump, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.

Citing unidentified officials, Bloomberg said, “Trump told Saudi and UAE leaders that any military action would trigger a crisis across the Middle East that would only benefit the Iranians.”

The Bloomberg report does not say when Saudi Arabia and UAE entertained military action towards Qatar.

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