Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held another round of meetings Tuesday
in an effort to end the crisis among its Gulf allies but was met with a
As the top U.S. diplomat urges restraint and
negotiation, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates say their demands
on neighbor Qatar are nonnegotiable.
And Qatar, meanwhile, says
it is not even reviewing the demands from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and
other Arab countries that moved earlier this month to isolate it for its
alleged support of terrorism.
Tillerson on Tuesday met with the
Qatari foreign minister, declining to answer reporters’ shouted
questions about stalled talks beforehand. Later in the evening, he met
with the Kuwaiti minister of state for cabinet affairs.
with the support of the U.S., is trying to mediate the dispute between
Qatar on one side and Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain
and Egypt on the other.
Before the meeting with the Kuwaiti
official, Tillerson told reporters, "We hope all the parties will
continue to talk to one another in good faith.”
Tillerson’s spokesperson Heather Nauert released a statement saying the
secretary and Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah Al-Sabah of Kuwait "reaffirmed
the need for all parties to exercise restraint to allow for productive
diplomatic discussions. The secretary urged the parties to remain open
to negotiation as the best way to resolve the dispute.”
hours earlier, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir told reporters that
none of the 10 data-x-items on his group's list of demands are negotiable and
that Qatar must meet them all.
They include: shutting down
Qatar’s multinational news network, Al Jazeera; cutting back ties with
Iran; ending support for the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and other
Islamist groups; and closing a Turkish military base.
where we are. We’ve made our point, we’ve taken our positions. If Qatar
wants to come back into the [Gulf Cooperation Council] pool, they know
what they have to do,” Jubeir said.
"If they don’t, they will
remain isolated. We don’t have to deal with them… We don’t have to deal
with a country that has done harm to us, unless they change their
behavior,” he added.
To Saudi officials, Qatar's fulfilling their
demands could mean meeting the spirit of some of them, without
accomplishing each item itself. But either way, that hard line and
willingness to leave Qatar -- a key U.S. ally that hosts nearly 10,000
troops supporting the fight against ISIS -- out in the cold is at odds
with the U.S. view.
On the other side, the Qatari foreign
minister told the Al Hurra news outlet that it will not respond until
the Saudis and others provide evidence for their accusations. He told Al
Jazeera "the demands must be realistic and enforceable and otherwise
All of this leaves the U.S. in a difficult
spot -- torn between crucial allies who are no closer to an agreement
despite weeks of public pressure, and some mixed messages, from the
Going forward, the U.S. won’t weigh in on which
demands Qatar should meet and which are unrealistic, but wants the two
sides to figure that out, Nauert said at the briefing Tuesday.
don’t know that that’s for the State Department to weigh in at that
level, because ultimately, these parties have to live with the decisions
and the agreements that they make,” she said.
Al Jubeir denied
that the timing of the crisis was tied to President Trump, after
speculation that the Saudis and their allies felt emboldened to take
action after the president’s visit to the Kingdom. And he wouldn’t say
if there were talks to move the enormous U.S. air base in Qatar to the
UAE or Saudi Arabia, saying that was an American decision.