19 July 2017 |Taimur Khan| The National
“The four Arab countries isolating Qatar say their original 13 demands to Doha have been replaced with a broader set of six “principles” which will set the perimeters of any future talks on ending the crisis.
This could indicate that the quartet is now more willing to engage in the mediation process led by Kuwait and backed by the United States, United Nations and European powers.
“Of course we are all for compromise, but there will be no compromise on these six principles,” said Abdallah Al Mouallimi, Saudi Arabia’s UN ambassador.
The decision to reduce the list of 13 specific demands – which Qatar rejected as violating its sovereignty and mediators from the US and elsewhere criticised – was first announced in Cairo two weeks ago after the foreign ministers of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain met there to determine their response to Doha’s rejection.
Diplomats from the four countries confirmed on Tuesday at a press conference at the United Nations in New York that the six less specific principles – which do not have a deadline – had officially replaced the original demands.
Those included the full closure of Al Jazeera and other Qatar-backed news outlets which the quartet said spread extremist views and were platforms for dissidents, and the shuttering of a permanent Turkish military base in Qatar.
The principles that the countries have now put forward are based on ending meddling by Doha in their internal affairs, counter-terrorism and fighting extremist ideology, cutting off funding for terrorist groups, and ending what they say is incitement to violence.
“We’re never going back to the status quo,” said UAE Ambassador to the UN Lana Nusseibeh. “That needs to be understood by the Qataris.”
On Monday, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, said the UAE was prepared for the current situation to extend indefinitely, even if there is no major escalation in pressure on Qatar. Meanwhile, Reem Al Hashimy, the Minister of State for International Cooperation, said at the UN that the ball is now in Qatar’s court.
“Our aim is to reach a diplomatic solution,” Mr Al Mouallimi said, adding that the four countries hope Qatar “will come around”.
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