Qatar says it will not negotiate with Arab states which cut diplomatic and travel ties with it earlier this month unless they reverse their measures, the country’s foreign minister said.
“Qatar is under blockade, there is no negotiation. They have to lift the blockade to start negotiations,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani told reporters in Doha, as quoted by Reuters. “Until now we didn’t see any progress about lifting the blockade, which is the precondition for anything to move forward.”
He went on to state that Qatar “cannot just have (vague) demands such as ‘the Qataris know what we want from them, they have to stop this or that, they have to be monitored by a foreign monitoring mechanism.”
He said that matters which relate to the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council are subject to negotiation, referring to the body comprising Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Kuwait, and Oman.
“Anything not related to them is not subject to negotiation. No one has the right to interfere in my affairs. Al Jazeera is Qatar’s affairs, Qatari foreign policy on regional issues is Qatar’s affairs. And we are not going to negotiate on our own affairs,” he said.
The reference to Qatar-based Al Jazeera comes after Gulf critics accused the news network of being a platform for extremists – an accusation which the channel has denied.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Yemen, the Maldives, and one of Libya’s three rival governments severed ties with Qatar earlier this month, over its alleged support of terrorism. Doha has adamantly denied those claims.
Al-Thani called the move a “publicity stunt” on Monday, saying “it is unfortunate that our neighbors have chosen to invest their time and resources in a baseless propaganda campaign.”
Meanwhile, the UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs said on Monday that Arab powers plan to reveal their demands for Qatar in the coming days, and warned that sanctions imposed against Doha could last for years unless those demands are met.
“Qatar will realize that this is a new state of affairs and isolation can last years,” Anwar Gargash told reporters in Paris, as quoted by Reuters.
“If they want to be isolated because of their perverted view of what their political role is, then let them be isolated. They are still in a phase of denial and anger,” he said.
US President Donald Trump has supported Arab states’ sanctions against Qatar, which have disrupted its main routes to import goods by land from Saudi Arabia and by sea from the UAE.
However, Qatar was able to find alternative routes in order to maintain business as usual, and al-Thani says Doha has an alternative plan in case the boycott continues.
“We have a back-up plan which depends mainly on Turkey, Kuwait and Oman,” he said. “Iran has facilitated for us the sky passages for our aviation and we are cooperating with all countries that can ensure supplies for Qatar.”