Riyadh Suspends Dialogue with Doha Shortly after Rulers’ Contact

Saudi Arabia has suspended any plan for holding dialogue with Qatar shortly after a phone call between the leaders of both countries suggested a breakthrough in the Persian Gulf dispute.

In a phone call on Friday, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani discussed the dispute between the two sides, state media from both countries reported.

“During the call, the Emir of Qatar expressed his desire to sit at the dialogue table and discuss the demands of the four countries to ensure the interests of all,” Saudi state news agency SPA reported,  adding that “the details will be announced later” after consulting with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt.

The phone call was the first publicly reported contact between the two leaders since the start of the crisis on June 5. Qatar’s state news agency QNA said the call was based on coordination of US President Donald Trump who had earlier spoken with Sheikh Tamim.

QNA reported that during the phone call both sides “stressed the need to resolve the crisis by sitting down to the dialogue table to ensure the unity and stability” of (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

Sheikh Tamim welcomed the proposal of Prince Mohammed during the call “to assign two envoys to resolve controversial issues in a way that does not affect the sovereignty of the states,” the Qatari news agency added.

However, Saudi Arabia issued a second statement minutes later, citing an unnamed official at the ministry of the foreign affairs denying the QNA report.

“What was published on the Qatar News Agency is a continuation of the distortion of the Qatari authority of the facts,” SPA reported citing the Saudi official.

“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.”

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