Trump committed to working to de-escalate Gulf tensions

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. (Reuters)
Updated 06 June 2017
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Trump committed to working to de-escalate Gulf tensions

WASHINGTON: The White House said US President Donald Trump is committed to working to de-escalate tensions in the Guf.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters in Sydney that the decision would not affect the fight against terrorists and that Washington had urged its Gulf allies to resolve their differences.
Meanwhile, Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, who is also an adviser to King Salman, met with Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah late on Monday during a short visit.
Kuwait’s official news agency said that Prince Khaled delivered a letter from King Salman to the Kuwaiti emir that discussed bilateral ties between the two Gulf countries and the latest regional developments.
Kuwait’s emir urged his Qatari counterpart Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to exercise restraint and refrain from steps that would escalate the situation, according to the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA).
Sheikh Sabah in a phone call with the Qatari emir hoped Sheikh Tamim would give a chance to efforts aimed at “containing tension in brotherly relations among brothers.”
Kuwait appears to be trying to play a neutral and potentially mediating role between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain. Qatar’s ruler had visited Kuwait’s ruler last week.
Kuwait and Oman have not severed ties with Qatar and have not issued statements about the political standoff.
An Omani Foreign Ministry official arrived in Qatar Monday night. The ministry on Twitter described the visit as planned before the crisis.
In another development, a Somali civil aviation official said at least 15 Qatar Airways flights used Somalia’s airspace since Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations moved to sever links with the Gulf nation.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters, said that before the Gulf diplomatic crisis erupted, just one or two Qatar Airways planes flew over Somalia each day.
Separately, Iran’s foreign minister spoke with his Qatari counterpart after Monday’s developments.


Iraq offers to mediate in crisis between US and Iran

Updated 28 min 44 sec ago
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Iraq offers to mediate in crisis between US and Iran

  • ‘We are trying to help and to be mediators’
  • The crisis takes root in President Donald Trump’s withdrawal last year of the US from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers

BAGHDAD: Iraq offered to mediate in the crisis between its two key allies, the United States and Iran, amid escalating Middle East tensions and as Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers steadily unravels.
Iraqi foreign minister, Mohammed Al-Hakim, made the offer Sunday during a joint news conference in Baghdad with visiting Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.
“We are trying to help and to be mediators,” said Al-Hakim, adding that Baghdad “will work to reach a satisfactory solution” while stressing that Iraq stands against unilateral steps taken by Washington.
In recent weeks, tensions between Washington and Tehran soared over America deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Arabian Gulf over a still-unexplained threat it perceives from Tehran.
The crisis takes root in President Donald Trump’s withdrawal last year of the US from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers that capped Iran’s uranium enrichment activities in return to lifting sanctions. Washington subsequently re-imposed sanctions on Iran, sending its economy into freefall.
Trump has argued that the deal failed to sufficiently curb Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons or halt its support for militias throughout the Middle East that the US says destabilize the region, as well as address the issue of Tehran’s missiles, which can reach both US regional bases and Israel.
Zarif, who was been on a whirlwind diplomatic offensive to preserve the rest of the accord, insisted that Iran “did not violate the nuclear deal” and urged European nations to exert efforts to preserve the deal following the US pullout.
Speaking about the rising tensions with the US, Zarif said Iran will be able to “face the war, whether it is economic or military through steadfastness and its forces.” He also urged for a non-aggression agreement between Iran and Arab countries in the Gulf.
The mediation offer by Al-Hakim, Iraq’s foreign minister, echoed one made Saturday by Mohamad Al-Halbousi, the Iraqi parliament speaker. Al-Hakim also expressed concern for Iran’s spiraling economy.
“The sanctions against sisterly Iran are ineffective and we stand by its side,” Al-Hakim said.