Qatar says Arab Gulf bloc needs reforms to strengthen


DOHA (Reuters) – Qatar said on Saturday that it remained committed to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), but that the bloc needed to better enforce its own rules, signaling that a reformed alliance could help put end to a dispute between Doha and some of its neighbors.

Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Bin Jassim Al-Thani, Qatar's Foreign Minister, will speak at a joint press conference with Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah at the Prime Minister's office in Nairobi. Putrajaya, Malaysia, December 6, 2018. REUTERS / Lai Seng Sin

Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said Qatar still relied on Kuwait and other regional powers to help resolve the conflict between Saudi Arabia and the Arab Emirates. Bahrain and non-GCC member Egypt to a political and economic boycott Doha since June 2017.

"We think we are more relevant as a block" to the West than to separate and fragmented countries, he said at the annual Doha Forum, but said the GCC has not "not the courage" and that he needed a dispute settlement mechanism.

"They have mechanisms in place and never trigger them (to hold people accountable) because some countries feel that they are non-binding, so we have to make sure that all the rules we submit are binding on all of us. world in this region. "

The four states accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism and to stand united in Iran. Doha denies the charges and says the boycott is aimed at limiting its sovereignty.

The conflict has escaped the mediation efforts of Kuwait, which, along with Oman, is part of the GCC, and the United States, who believe that the unity of the Gulf is essential to contain Iran.

In a sign that the dispute has further escalated, the Emir of Qatar did not attend the annual Gulf summit on Sunday. Doha had earlier announced that it was leaving OPEC to focus on gasoline, which is perceived as a blow against the de facto leader of the oil exporting club, Saudi Arabia.

"In the Gulf crisis, our position remains unchanged: lift the blockade and resolve disputes through dialogue," said Qatari emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani at the forum.

The EU OFFERS HELP

The boycotting states believe that the conflict is not a priority and insist that Qatar respect the list of demands that were submitted to it at the beginning of the crisis, including the closure of Al Jazeera, the reduction of ties with Tehran and the closure of a Turkish military base in Qatar.

Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shiite Muslim Iran grapple with several proxy wars in the Middle East, Turkey's ties to the kingdom are severely strained by the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the consulate of the kingdom in Istanbul.

The Iranian and Turkish foreign ministers, who both supported Qatar in the conflict, are participating in the two-day forum.

Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor-Viorel Meleşcanu told the meeting that the European Union was working to organize a conference likely to help resolve the Gulf conflict.

"We are thinking of a joint event for the EU and the Arab countries and we would like to have a direct discussion with the GCC countries. We hope to hold it in April and in principle it will take place in Bucharest, "he told Reuters.

Romania assumes the rotating presidency of the EU Council from January for the next six months.

Bahrain's Foreign Minister said on Saturday that there is no need for mediation as the solution lies in the hands of Doha.

"It's not our crisis, it's the Qatar crisis. It is not necessary to resort to a mediator to solve it, but to a wise man of his people (Qatar), "said Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa.

Writing of Saeed Azhar, Additional Report of Asma Alsharif in Dubai, Edited by Ghaida Ghantous, William Maclean

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