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Tillerson Shuttles to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar to Try to Break Impasse

  • Cindy Saine

In this July 9, 2017, photo made available July 10, 2017, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, left prior to their meeting in Istanbul.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is in Kuwait, in an effort to help resolve the impasse over the blockade of Qatar by its Persian Gulf neighbors

Tillerson is also due to visit Saudi Arabia and Qatar this week.

Tillerson met Monday with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, after a visit Sunday to Ukraine. Before leaving Turkey for Kuwait, senior communications adviser R.C. Hammond said the purpose of Tillerson's trip to several Gulf countries this week is to explore where a possible resolution can be found.

Hammond said Tillerson is traveling at the invitation of the Emir of Kuwait, and his first stop is Kuwait City. Hammond said it is not new that President Donald Trump had asked the secretary of state to find a resolution to the Qatar crisis, and that the role of the U.S. is to keep people talking to each other.

Hammond said the president has been very clear that his No. 1 goal is to have all Arab nations do more to stop the financing of terrorism. After his first trip abroad to Saudi Arabia, Trump accused Qatar of supporting terrorism at the highest levels. Qatar has denied this.

Last month, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt and others severed diplomatic ties and instituted a land, air and sea blockade of Qatar.

The Saudi-led group has given Doha a list of 13 demands, which includes calls for Qatar to downgrade its relations with Iran and close the Qatari-state-funded al-Jazeera news network. Qatar has said it is willing to negotiate, but will not give up its sovereignty.

Before leaving Turkey for Kuwait, Tillerson said he believed he and Erdogan were making progress in rebuilding trust, and stressed the importance of the U.S.-Turkish relationship.

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