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Gulf crisis: Qatar ready for dialogue to resolve blockade

Amir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani attends the first Gulf Cooporative Council's (GCC) " GCC British Summit", in Sakhir Palace Bahrain, December 7, 2016. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

Doha [Qatar]: Asserting that differences can be resolved through dialogue and political differences should not burden civilians, Qatar’s ruling emir said he is open for dialogue to solve the boycott by the four powerful Arab neighbours.

In his first public address since the crisis erupted, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani stressed that he is ready to find a solution to the lingering problem, but within the framework of respect for the sovereignty of each state.

Stating that Qatar is not afraid to correct its errors, the Emir added that “this crisis has helped us identify and overcome the shortcomings and obstacles in determining Qatar’s national, political, economic and independent identity.”

He also appreciated the spirit of solidarity, harmony and defiance that prevailed among the people of Qatar, both citizens and residents, since the beginning of the blockade imposed by fellow GCC countries.

The nation’s leader further assured that day-to-day life in Qatar has continued as normal since the onset of the blockade.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and its allies have now backed down from their list of specific demands which included shutting down the Al Jazeera news network, closing a Turkish military base, cutting ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and with Iran.

Instead now they want Qatar to include commitments to combat terrorism and extremism, and to end acts of provocation and incitement.

Earlier, continuing attempts to diffuse the gulf crisis, U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, called on Qatar’s Gulf neighbours to take some positive action by lifting their economic blockade on the oil-rich state.

“I hope as a sign of good faith they will lift that blockade. That would be a positive development,” the Guardian quoted Tillerson as saying.

Earlier this week, the UAE said it expected an extended impasse in the ongoing dispute and gave no indication of lifting the blockade to let dialogue begin.

Last week, Tillerson praised Qatar for becoming the first state in the region to sign a new memorandum of understanding with Washington on tracking the flow of terrorist financing.

Speaking in Washington on Friday, he said Qatar had been aggressive in implementing the agreement to address concerns over terrorism and terror financing.

“So we are satisfied with the effort they are putting it forward. I think they have also indicated a willingness to sit with the four parties and negotiate and discuss the four demands. They have indicated that the sovereignty and dignity of all five countries most be preserved,” Tillerson said.

Tillerson pressed on saying that would be “a good sign” if the four countries lifted their blockade, which has closed air routes, land border, forced Qatar to arrange emergency food supplies from elsewhere. (ANI)