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Qatari FM: Doha ready for dialogue despite blockade

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani says Gulf blockade is violating human rights, but stresses readiness for talks.

Abdulrahman Al Thani

Qatar's foreign minister has said that the blockade by neighbouring Gulf countries is violating international law and human rights, but repeated that Doha is ready for dialogue.

Speaking at a UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva on Sunday, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, said Qatar had faced numerous challenges because of the "illegal imposition" by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain, after accusing Doha of funding "terrorism".

Qatar has vehemently rejected the allegations.

"These Gulf countries have taken illegal measures that constitute a grave violation of civil, economic and social human rights, including banning Qatari citizens travelling or transiting through their territories," Al Thani said in the session.

"This has torn apart many families and has interrupted education and the right to work in Qatar."

On June 5, the four countries cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposed a land, air and sea blockade on their Gulf neighbour. 

On June 22, the group issued a 13-point list of demands, including the shutdown of Al Jazeera, limiting ties with Iran, and expelling Turkish troops stationed in the country as a prerequisite to lifting the blockade.

Doha rejected all the demands, denouncing them as an attempt to infringe on Qatar's sovereignty.

The head of Qatar's National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) Ali bin Smaikh al-Marri said last month that his organisation would be taking legal action against the blockading countries on behalf of citizens who filed official complaints seeking financial and economic redress.

'Willing to talk'

The Qatari foreign minister also emphasised that the blockading countries tried to "hide facts from people" and fabricated allegations of supporting "terrorism".

"The real motivation behind the siege was not fighting terrorism, but rather to interfere in to our (Qatar's) foreign policy and undermine its sovereignty," Al Thani said, adding that the GCC crisis will only be solved through dialogue.

"The state of Qatar reaffirms its position in rejecting and condemning terrorism in all its forms, whatever the cause and motives are. Qatar is an active member in the coalition to counter terrorism. 

"So despite any challenges and allegations, Qatar is willing to talk."

On Sunday, Saudi Arabia suspended plans to hold talks with Qatar, shortly after reports of a phone call between Qatar's emir and the Saudi crown prince hinted at a potential breakthrough in the crisis.

The call on Friday between Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was the first official contact between Doha and Riyadh since the start of the dispute.

In the phone call, which was reported by state media from both countries, the two leaders expressed a willingness to discuss an end to the rift.

However, there seemed to be a dispute over protocol - with some reports pointing to Qatar News Agency's (QNA) apparent failure to mention that it was Doha that had initiated the call.

In the phone discussion, Sheikh Tamim and Mohammed bin Salman "stressed the need to resolve this crisis" through dialogue "to ensure the unity and stability" of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), said QNA.

On Thursday, Trump held talks with the emir of Kuwait, who had been acting as a mediator to defuse the crisis, at the White House.

The GCC is an alliance of six Middle Eastern countries: Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman.

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