U.S. President Donald Trump on September 8 urged Saudi Arabia and other Arab states to resolve their differences with Qatar and present a united front against Iran, the White House said.
Trump spoke separately with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) Crown Prince Sheikh Muhammad bin Zayed al-Nahyan, and Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.
Trump told them that unity among Washington’s Arab partners was essential to promoting regional stability and countering the threat of Iran, the White House said.
The leaders “discussed the continued threat Iran poses to regional stability,” it said.
“The president also emphasized that all countries must follow through on commitments from the Riyadh Summit to defeat terrorism, cut off funding for terrorist groups, and combat extremist ideology.”
Trump said on September 7 that he was willing to step in and mediate the dispute between Qatar and other Gulf Arab states, and he thought a deal could come quickly.
Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E., Egypt, and Bahrain in June cut diplomatic, trade, air, and shipping ties with Qatar, which is home to the Persian Gulf’s biggest U.S. military base.
The Saudi-led group of Arab states said Qatar was too close to Saudi archrival Iran and too lenient on Islamic extremists — accusations that Doha denies.
The leaders of Qatar and Saudi Arabia for the first time since the dispute broke out spoke by phone on September 8 and Qatar’s Thani subsequently expressed willingness to negotiate a settlement of their dispute, media reported.
However, Saudi Arabia early on September 9 said it was suspending any dialogue because Qatar’s state news agency, which had portrayed the call as a breakthrough coordinated by Trump, had “distorted facts.”
As Kuwaiti officials visited Washington during the week, Trump and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also endorsed an effort to mediate the Gulf Arab dispute by Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah.
“We support his efforts to help bring about a settlement,” Tillerson said on September 8. “The United States and Kuwait both recognize the important of [Gulf Cooperation Council] unity to meet the challenges of the region that we all face together, not the least of which is the threats from Iran.”