Qatar 09 Sept 2017 (AlJazeera News)
Saudi Arabia says plans to hold talks with Qatar have been suspended, shortly after the emergence of reports that a phone call between Qatar’s Emir and the Saudi Crown Prince hinted at a potential breakthrough in a major diplomatic crisis in the Gulf.
The call on Friday between by Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was the first official contact between Doha and Riyadh since the start of the crisis more than three months ago.
In the phone call, which was reported by state media from both countries, the two leaders expressed a willingness to discuss an end to the rift.
However, there seems to be a dispute over protocol – with some reports pointing out to Qatar News Agency’s (QNA) apparent failure to mention that it was Doha that had initiated the call.
In its report about the two leaders’ call, QNA said that the phone conversation had been coordinated by US President Donald Trump.
In the phone discussion, Sheikh Tamim and Mohammed bin Salman “stressed the need to resolve this crisis” through dialogue “to ensure the unity and stability” of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), said QNA.
The Qatari emir welcomed a proposal by the Saudi crown prince to assign two envoys to resolve the dispute “in a way that does not affect the sovereignty of states”, the Qatari news agency added.
In what appeared to be a possible breakthrough, Saudi state news agency SPA initially issued a statement confirming Friday’s phone conversation, saying that Sheikh Tamim had called Mohammed bin Salman and “expressed his desire” to discuss the demands of the four blockading countries.
“The details will be announced later after the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia concludes an understanding with the United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom of Bahrain and the Arab Republic of Egypt,” it added.
But SPA later issued a second statement, citing an unnamed official at the ministry of the foreign affairs as saying that what QNA had published earlier in its report about the phone call was a “distortion of … facts”.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announces the suspension of any dialogue or communication with the authority in Qatar until a clear statement is issued clarifying its position in public,” the second statement added.