French FM in Kuwait for Gulf crisis talks
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian held talks with top officials in Kuwait on July 16 in a bid to bolster the emirate’s attempts to mediate in the Gulf crisis.
Le Drian met with Kuwaiti emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah and Kuwait’s foreign minister, state news agency KUNA said, for talks on a regional rift which has seen Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain sever all ties with Qatar.
Le Drian, who was due in the United Arab Emirates July 16 night, stopped in Qatar and Saudi Arabia at the start of his two-day Gulf tour on July 15.
The French foreign minister has supported Kuwait as a mediator in the Gulf crisis, which he said should be resolved “by the Gulf countries themselves.”
“France does not want to substitute the mediator,” Le Drian said in Saudi Arabia on Saturday. “It wants to be a facilitator by joining efforts of other countries.”
Le Drian’s visit comes after a four-day mediation mission by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, which ended on July 13 with no announcement of progress towards defusing mounting tensions in the Gulf.
Saudi Arabia and its allies imposed sanctions on Doha on June 5, including closing its only land border, denying Qatar access to their airspace and ordering their citizens back from the emirate.
The four Arab states accuse Qatar of ties to Iran and of funding Islamist extremist groups. Qatar has denied the accusations.
The Gulf crisis is the worst to hit the region since the establishment of the Gulf Cooperation Council in 1981.