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Tillerson in Doha to Meet with Qatar’s Emir

US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson and qatari emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani

Toronto – US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, is set to meet with Qatari Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, today in Doha.

The visit is part of a Tillerson tour to the region to help shore up negotiations badly shaken by Qatar’s rejection of the list of demands presented to it by the countries representing the bloc.

Tillerson’s visit with the Emir will be followed by a meeting with foreign minister, Sheik Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.

After a diplomatic response to the so-called Qatar crisis which critics called “confused” and often contradictory, the US has stepped up its show of support for a timely and balanced solution.

The Secretary of State’s visit to Qatar follows a trip to mediator, Kuwait, and a discussion with that country’s Emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah. Tillerson was eager to deliver the US administration’s support for Kuwaiti mediation efforts, especially now that the bloc countries, comprised of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, have declared their list of 13 demands to be “null and void.”

That judgement came on the heels of Qatar’s official rejection of the demands placed on them by the bloc as well as the ten-day deadline in which they were expected to have complied.

Senior advisor to Tillerson, R.C. Hammond explained the Trump administration’s viewpoint that negotiations in the dispute are “a two-way street.” He added that “there are no clean hands” when it comes to the financial support of terrorist organizations by every country involved in the dispute.

During Tillerson’s trip to Kuwait, the country’s Emir spoke of the scope of the crisis and the responsibility his country feels toward finding a pathway out of it that will appease all parties concerned.  “We are trying to resolve an issue that concerns not just us but the whole world,” Sheikh Sabah explained.

The dispute was kicked off in early June when the four bloc countries announced to the world that they were severing all diplomatic ties with Qatar, citing that country’s alleged financial support of terrorist groups. Qatar vehemently denied the allegations from the start and no evidence has been offered by the bloc to support their assertions. Qatar has maintained that the blockade imposed on it has more to do with an attempt by the bloc to quash Qatar’s independent foreign policy and freedom of speech in the region.

After a much-discussed delay, the bloc presented its list of demands to end the dispute to Qatar on June 22. They included the immediate closure of state-funded network, Al Jazeera, the dismantling of a Turkish military base within Qatari borders, a cooling of relations with regional enemy, Iran, and an immediate stop to any association with groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, al Qaeda and ISIS.

Qatar rejected the demands outright, calling them unworkable. After being labelled by the bloc as “non-negotiable,” Qatar accused the bloc of deliberately designing the demands to be impossible to meet.

Of his trip to the region, US officials said Tillerson does not expect an immediate breakthrough. In fact, they cautioned that a workable solution to the conflict could still be months away.

According to the officials, Tillerson’s purpose in making the tour is simply to inspire new avenues for negotiation to keep the dialogue flowing.

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