PARIS: France has called for a swift lifting of sanctions that target Qatari nationals in an effort to ease a month-long rift between the Gulf country and several of its neighbours.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt imposed sanctions on Qatar on June 5, accusing it of financing extremist groups and allying with Iran. Doha denies the accusations.
“France calls for the lifting, as soon as possible, of the measures that affect the populations in particular, bi-national families that have been separated or students,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters in Doha, after he met his counterpart HE Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani.
Le Drian was speaking alongside Sheikh Mohamed, hours after his arrival in Doha.
He is the latest Western official to visit the area since the crisis began. Le Drian, who will visit the UAE and Gulf mediator Kuwait today, follows in the steps of other world powers in the region, including the United States, whose Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sought to find a solution to the impasse last week.
Officials from Britain and Germany also visited the region with the aim of easing the conflict.
At the joint press conference, Qatar and France stressed the importance of joint action to combat terrorism and its financing as part of the efforts exerted by the international community.
Sheikh Mohamed said that the common goal of the international community is to combat terrorism and fight its financing, pointing out that the actions taken by the siege countries against Qatar disrupt these efforts.
“The fight against terrorism requires collective action, not the exercise of political and intellectual terrorism,” he said in reference to the actions of siege countries against Qatar.
The foreign minister said the visit of the French minister reflects the strength of bilateral relations between the two friendly countries in various fields such as security, energy and economy.
He said the two sides reviewed the latest conditions that Qatar is going through, especially the measures taken by the siege countries, which affect international treaties and the rules of international law.
The foreign minister affirmed Qatar welcomes the efforts of the France in supporting Kuwaiti mediation and finding a solution based on the sovereignty of states and international law.
The French minister described his country’s ties with Qatar as strong and advanced, entailing great co-operation in many fields such as defence, economy as well as culture.
He said his talks in Doha focused on the GCC crisis. He said France was in contact regarding the matter with all parties involved, stressing the importance of reaching a resolution to it.
Le Drian noted that the French president held many telephone conversations with His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani since the beginning of the GCC crisis. He hoped the Emir will pay a visit to Paris in the near term.
He also said France commends the efforts of US Secretary of State who visited the region last week.
Le Drian stressed the importance of taking measures that will help all members of the GCC crisis regain trust in order to ease the tensions and find a resolution to the crisis, which is harming the interests of all GCC member countries.
He said that he sensed, during his talks in Doha, the willingness of Qatar to hold constructive talks with its neighbours so long as it doesn’t infringe on Qatar’s national sovereignty. The minister called on finding a resolution to the crisis as soon as possible, and lifting all the measures that affected joint families and civilians.
He praised the commitment of Qatar to enhance co-operation in counter-terrorism field and countering terrorism finance.
Later in the day he flew to Jeddah, where he repeated his concerns about the effects of the standoff in a televised press appearance with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir.
Jubeir said any resolution of the worst Gulf crisis in years should come from within the six-nation Gulf Co-operation Council.
“We hope to resolve this crisis within the Gulf house,” he said.
“France should be a facilitator in the mediation,” led by Kuwait, Le Drian reiterated in Jeddah, where he also met Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman.
“We look for everyone’s determined commitment against terrorism, its support and financing. In this perspective, it is important that GCC countries should be united, to remain a rampart against instability,” he said.
Le Drian agreed that “solving this crisis should be done by the Gulf countries themselves”, reiterating Paris’s support for Kuwaiti mediation.
“France does not want to substitute the mediator… It wants to be a facilitator by joining efforts of other countries,” he stressed.