JEDDAH (DNA): US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held talks Wednesday with four Arab states calling for combating terror, as part of a round of intense shuttle diplomacy aimed at resolving the Qatar crisis.
Tillerson’s trip from Kuwait to Jeddah followed discussions the previous day with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, which ended with the signing of a counterterrorism pact.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain severed relations with Qatar and cut air, sea and land routes with it over a month ago, accusing Doha of supporting extremist groups. Qatar denies the allegations.
Any resolution of the impasse must address all the key issues for Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, including Doha’s undermining of regional stability, a senior Emirati official said ahead of the talks in Saudi Arabia. The Anti-Terror Quartet (ATQ) has given no indication it is willing to back off from its stance. Just hours before Tillerson’s arrival in Jeddah, it said the counterterrorism deal that Qatar signed with him Tuesday was “not enough” to ease their concerns. “We’re happy to see this continuous cooperation between us and (to) even strengthen it and increase it further without limits,” the Saudi crown prince said while welcoming Tillerson.
Tillerson later left Jeddah for Kuwait after his meetings. He is expected to travel back to Qatar on Thursday for more talks.
Tillerson underscored the shared mutual interests between the US and Saudi Arabia, notably in the areas of “security, stability… and economic prosperity.” He stressed the two countries shared a “strong partnership.”
The deal struck between Washington and Doha falls far short of the sweeping demands made by the ATQ for Qatar to change its policy of supporting extremists in the region. The ATQ took partial credit for the US counterterrorism deal with Qatar, saying that it was the result of “repeated pressures and demands” by the four countries and others, but that it did not go far enough.