Three weeks after Saudi Arabia and other Arab states imposed trade and diplomatic embargoes on Qatar, Tillerson held talks in Washington with Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, foreign minister of Qatar, which has been a firm American ally.
On Sunday, Tillerson said that while some elements of the series of requests made by the four countries would be “very hard for Qatar to meet. there are significant areas which provide a basis for ongoing dialogue leading to resolution”.
“Some of the elements” in the demands “will be very hard for Qatar to meet”, Tillerson said last weekend.
Tillerson on Tuesday met with the Qatari foreign minister, declining to answer reporters’ shouted questions about stalled talks beforehand.
The threat is the latest escalation of the recent attempt to isolate Qatar diplomatically for alleged terrorist support, and for supposedly being too cozy with Saudi Arabia’s regional rival Iran.
Riyadh has laid down a list of 13 demands for Qatar, included the closure of Al-Jazeera, a downgrade of diplomatic ties with Iran and the shutdown of a Turkish military base in the emirate.
On Tuesday, Tillerson also met Kuwait’s Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah Al-Sabah. Kuwait has taken on the official role of mediator in the spat.
Oil price agency S&P Global Platts is proposing to remove from next month restrictions it had placed on Qatari crude in its pricing assessment after Saudi Arabia and some other Arab states cut ties with Doha, a spokeswoman said on Wednesday.
He said the expulsion of Qatar from the Gulf Cooperation Council was “not the only sanction available”.
“We continue to call on those countries to work together and work this out”.
Gulf Arab states are considering fresh sanctions on Qatar and could ask their trading partners to choose between working with them or Doha, the United Arab Emirates ambassador to Russian Federation said in an interview with The Guardian newspaper.
The move placed Washington uncomfortably in the middle, with its close economic and security ties with both sides. But either way, that hard line and willingness to leave Qatar – a key USA ally that hosts almost 10,000 troops supporting the fight against ISIS – out in the cold is at odds with the US view. Bahrain is home to the US Navy´s Fifth Fleet.
All of this leaves the U.S.in a hard spot – torn between crucial allies who are no closer to an agreement despite weeks of public pressure, and some mixed messages, from the administration.