Jeddah and Kuwait City, Asharq Al-Awsat—The dispute between Qatar and its neighbors Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates remains unresolved, despite positive statements on the issue at the conclusion of Saturday’s meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) foreign ministers in Jeddah, Asharq Al-Awsat has learned.
Gulf diplomatic sources, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on condition of anonymity, said the return of Saudi, Bahraini and Emirati ambassadors to Doha in the near future was unlikely, an indication that the rift between the four GCC members that led to the recall of the ambassadors in March remains unresolved.
Qatar’s neighbors accuse it of interfering in their internal affairs, and of failing to respect the Riyadh Agreement, a security pact drawn up by the GCC member states last year.
Kuwaiti diplomatic sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that one of the points of contention was Qatar’s refusal to endorse the report of the committee supervising Doha’s compliance with the Riyadh Agreement. They also said that Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE demanded Qatar expand its efforts to comply with the agreement, while Qatari officials demanded more time to implement all of its articles.
However, the committees were given a green light to continue their efforts to supervise Qatar’s compliance on Saturday, providing more time for the dispute to be resolved.
One Kuwaiti diplomatic source, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media, played down the dispute, saying that the fact the two sides were still talking to each other was a positive sign.
He said: “The most important achievement was keeping the channels open for frank negotiations in order to reach a final conciliation through direct dialogue, and this in itself is an indication that the remaining differences would be resolved soon.”
The source’s comments echoed the upbeat tone of the GCC’s other two members, Kuwait and Oman.
At the GCC meeting, Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al Sabah said: “We have agreed to establish principles and criteria to overcome the obstacles which have tarnished Gulf relations as soon as possible.”
He added that Gulf States were saddened by the events and that “we must expedite the implementation of the agreements.” The Kuwaiti foreign minister did not give a time frame for a final agreement, and said: “Do not be surprised if the ambassadors return at any time.”
The French News Agency, AFP, meanwhile, quoted Omani Foreign Minister Youssef Bin Alawi as saying the differences with Qatar had been resolved and that the ambassadors would return, but he did not specify the date for their return.
Reem Al-Mea’ contributed additional reporting from Kuwait City.