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Washington on the Gulf Crisis: ‘The Worst is Behind Us’ | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir face reporters before their meeting at the State Department in Washington, on March 23, 2017. (Yuri Gripas / Reuters)

Washington – The US is leading extensive diplomatic efforts to find a solution to the Gulf crisis, while the State Secretary has expressed optimism, noting that progress has been achieved in this regard.

Official delegations from several concerned countries – including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Jordan and Qatar – are currently visiting Washington to discuss with US officials the means to resolve the ongoing crisis.

Addressing reporters on Tuesday, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauret said: “I would characterize the mood and approach as hopeful, which believes that the worst is behind us.”

Earlier on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, who stressed that his country was not imposing a blockade against Qatar.

Tillerson and US Defense Secretary James Mattis have conducted extensive telephone calls in an attempt to ease the crisis between Gulf States and Qatar.

However, Nauret declined to comment on whether Washington regarded Qatar as a country that sponsors terrorism, and whether the US considers the decision to cut ties with Doha as a blockade.

“Let’s keep in mind that everyone has agreed or these parties are working toward an agreement on combating terrorism, and that is the main focus,” she stated.

Nauret continued: “And let’s not get bogged down in all the details about who’s calling what when. This is trending in a positive direction. And let’s stay focused on that so that we can continue to fight the war on terror.”

Meanwhile, US Republican Senator John McCain, who is also the chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, described as dangerous the Gulf crisis between Qatar and its three sisterly states – Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain, in addition to Egypt.

Urging Qatar to change its behavior, the senator noted that the US was aware that the country was supporting terrorist organizations.

“Qataris’ behavior has got to change,” McCain said during a discussion at the Wall Street Journal CFO Network annual meeting in Washington.

“We can’t have Qataris funding terrorist organizations that are committing crimes to take American lives,” he said, adding: “We just have certain fundamentals that are what America and democracy are all about.”

The Republican senator urged US President Donald Trump to send Mattis to Doha “right away” so “he sorts this out.”

Describing the situation in the Gulf as dangerous, McCain said the Trump administration should act.

“The one thing we need is some consistency from this administration, which they don’t have as we speak,” he stated.