Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu speaks at a news conference in Ankara, on June 5, 2017
Turkey’s foreign minister held talks with Qatar’s emir Wednesday as the search for a diplomatic solution to the Gulf crisis intensified and the UN voiced fears over growing humanitarian concerns in the region.
Mevlut Cavusoglu called for dialogue to end the crisis, after meeting Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani in Doha.
“The meeting discussed developments of the Gulf crisis and means of solving it in addition to reviewing the strategic ties between the two countries and aspects of developing them on all fronts,” a statement on the Qatar News Agency said.
The reference to “all fronts” could refer to Turkey’s military base in Qatar.
Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency said Cavusoglu would on Thursday travel to Kuwait — which is also seeking to solve the crisis — before holding talks with Saudi King Salman in Saudi Arabia on Friday.
“This absolutely needs to be overcome,” Cavusoglu told Anadolu in Doha after the talks, describing the current situation as deeply undesirable, especially during the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
“This needs to be overcome through dialogue and through peace. Turkey will also make its contribution,” he added.
Ankara is one of Qatar’s strongest allies and earlier this week committed to deploying troops at its base in the emirate.
“Saudi Arabia has the potential and capability to solve this crisis as a wise state and big brother of the region and also as a major actor,” Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin.
“We aim to involve all actors in this process.”
Riyadh is one of several countries which has imposed a political and economic “blockade” on Qatar, in protest at Doha’s support for Islamist extremist groups as well as over its ties to Shiite Iran.
The move has been backed by nations including Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt and others.
Qatar strongly denies the charges and claims neighbouring countries are trying to interfere with its foreign policy.
The diplomatic push continued elsewhere, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan — who has described the decision by Gulf states to cut political and economic ties with Qatar as “inhumane” — expected to hold phone talks with US President Donald Trump in the coming days.
Erdogan’s spokesman said a trilateral meeting between Ankara, Paris and Doha was also planned.
This is in addition to mediation efforts already launched by Kuwait’s Sheikh Sabah al-Khaled al-Sabah.
Meanwhile, the United Nations’ secretary general urged the Gulf countries to find a peaceful solution to the row.
Antonio Guterres expressed his “full support for Kuwait’s efforts to de-escalate tensions and promote an effective dialogue”, a spokesman said.
The planned talks follow discussions on Tuesday between Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Doha also announced that its navy was to take part in a joint naval exercise with US vessels, which arrived in Qatar on Wednesday.
– UN ‘alarmed’ –
In Geneva, concern surrounding the humanitarian situation grew Wednesday, with the intervention of the UN human rights chief.
A general view taken in Doha on June 11, 2017 shows portraits of Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani on the back of vehicles
“I am alarmed about the possible impact on many people’s human rights in the wake of the decision by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain to cut diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar,” said Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, in his first comments on the crisis.
“It is becoming clear that the measures being adopted are overly broad in scope and implementation,” he added.
The decision to isolate Qatar had led to fears that thousands of families in the Gulf would be split apart.
As well as economic and political ties, the Gulf states also ordered Qataris out within 14 days as well as calling home their own citizens.
Amnesty International has warned of “heartbreak and fear” being suffered by ordinary people in the region and accused Saudi Arabia and its allies of “toying with the lives of thousands of Gulf residents”.
Bahrain and the UAE have also banned expressions of sympathy for Qatar.
Manama announced on Wednesday that it had detained a citizen for sympathising with Qatar on social media.
There have also been fears of food shortages in Qatar — so far not realised — and a disruption of imports needed for a number of capital projects in the gas-rich emirate.
Qatar is receiving food deliveries from Turkey, Iran and Morocco among others.
On Wednesday the transport ministry in Doha said on Twitter it had launched a new shipping line to transport goods directly between Qatar and India.
The 2022 World Cup host is also in the middle of building huge capital projects worth an estimated $200 billion-plus, many of which rely on suppliers in the region.
Doha-based airline Qatar Airways has been banned from using the airspace of neighbouring countries since measures were announced on June 5.
However, the carrier said services were largely unaffected by the decision.
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