JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia on Saturday said it was suspending any dialogue with Qatar, accusing Doha of "distorting facts”.
The Saudi Press Agency (SPA) made the announcement an hour after reporting a phone call between leaders of the two countries in an effort to resolve the dispute between Qatar and the quartet of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
The four countries severed diplomatic relations with Qatar in June, accusing it of supporting extremist groups and of being too close to Iran. They also shut down air, maritime and land links and imposed economic sanctions on Qatar.
In an earlier report Saturday, the SPA said Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received a call on Friday from Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, who it said had expressed his desire to start a dialogue with the quartet and discuss their demands.
Crown Prince Mohammed welcomed Sheikh Tamim’s desire to begin a dialogue and that a decision would soon be announced after Saudi Arabia “concludes an understanding” with its three partners, the SPA report said. The phone call was the first publicly reported contact between the two leaders since the start of the crisis.
The call came a day after US President Donald Trump said he would be willing to step in and mediate the worst dispute in decades among the US-allied Arab states and Qatar, and said he thinks a deal could come quickly.
In a joint press conference with Trump in Washington, Kuwaiti Emir Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah hinted at a potential resolution to the lingering crisis when he said that Doha has agreed to sit at the negotiation table and discuss the list of 13 demands of the Anti-Terror Quartet (ATQ).
After reporting the phone call between Crown Prince Mohammed and Sheikh Tamim, another SPA report said that Saudi Arabia was suspending the dialogue, quoting a Saudi official at the Foreign Ministry as saying Qatar's state news agency QNA published a report that “did not have any relevance to truth.”
According to QNA, both Qatar's Emir and the Saudi Crown Prince "stressed the need to resolve the crisis by sitting down to the dialogue table to ensure the unity and stability of the GCC countries.”
Sheikh Tamim welcomed the proposal of Prince Mohammed during the call "to assign two envoys to resolve controversial issues in a way that does not affect the sovereignty of the states," QNA said.
It said the phone call was based on coordination of US President Donald Trump who had earlier talked with Sheikh Tamim.
SPA said what the QNA published “is a continuation of the distortion by the Qatari authority of the facts.”
“It clearly shows that the Qatari authority has not yet understood that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is not ready at all to tolerate the change by the Qatari authority of agreements and facts. This is evident in the distortion of the content of the contact received by the Crown Prince from the Emir of the State of Qatar minutes after its completion,” it said.
It further said: “The contact was at the request of Qatar and its request for dialogue with the four countries on the demands, and because this proves that the authority in Qatar is not serious in dialogue and continues its previous policies, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia declares that any dialogue or communication with the authority in Qatar shall be suspended until a clear statement explaining its position is made in public and that its public statements are in conformity with its obligations. The Kingdom affirms that the flounder of the Qatari policy does not enhance the confidence needed for dialogue.”