INTERNATIONAL

Efforts intensify to resolve Gulf dispute

At an impasse:Kuwait’s Emir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, right, being received by UAE PM Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, in Dubai on Wednesday.AP

At an impasse:Kuwait’s Emir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, right, being received by UAE PM Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, in Dubai on Wednesday.AP  

In a U-turn, Washington offers to mediate biggest crisis to grip region in years

Efforts to resolve a diplomatic dispute pitting Saudi Arabia and its allies against Qatar intensified Thursday, after Washington offered to mediate the biggest crisis to grip the Gulf in years.

As Kuwait’s emir shuttled between Gulf capitals for talks, U.S. President Donald Trump offered to host a White House meeting if necessary, in a change of heart from his initial support for the Saudi-led boycott.

The feud has raised fears of wider instability in an already-volatile region that is a crucial global energy supplier and home to several Western military bases.

Kuwait — which unlike most of its fellow Gulf Cooperation Council members has not cut off ties with Qatar — has been leading efforts to mediate. Its emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah held talks on Wednesday with Qatari counterpart Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, following talks with senior UAE officials and Saudi King Salman. Mr. Trump, who had initially backed the measures against Qatar in a tweet, called Sheik Tamim on Wednesday with an offer “to help the parties resolve their differences”.

Qatar hosts the Al-Udeid military base, the largest US airbase in the Middle East. Home to some 10,000 troops, Al-Udeid is central to the U.S.-led fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

French President Emmanuel Macron has also reached out to Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Iran in a bid to kick off negotiations.

Turkey approves troops

Turkey, which works closely with Qatar in the energy sector, has walked a fine line between defending Qatar and abstaining from openly antagonising Saudi Arabia.

In a sign of support for Doha, Turkey’s Parliament on Wednesday approved an agreement to expand the number of troops deployed to a Turkish base in Qatar. The agreement did not detail a timeframe or the number of troops.

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