With the original ultimatum issued by four Arab states accusing Qatar of supporting terrorism, expiring at midnight on Sunday, the Saudi-led coalition agreed to extend the deadline for Doha to comply with its list of demands until late on Tuesday a, even as U.S. President Donald Trump voiced concern to both sides about the dispute. According to a joint statement posted on Saudi state news agency SPA, the four countries agreed to a request by Kuwait to extend by 48 hours Sunday's deadline for compliance. They have not specified what further sanctions they could impose on Doha, but commercial bankers in the region believe that Saudi, Emirati and Bahraini banks might receive official guidance to pull deposits and interbank loans from Qatar.
As Reuters adds, foreign ministers from the four countries will meet in Cairo on Wednesday to discuss Qatar, while Arab media reported that Qatari foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani arrived in Kuwait on Monday to deliver Doha's formal response to the Arab demands. Mediation efforts, including by the U.S., have so far proven fruitless after the four states cut diplomatic and commercial ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of supporting terrorism, meddling in their internal affairs and advancing the agenda of regional foe Iran, all of which Qatar denies.
Separately, Trump spoke to the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi in the UAE to discuss his "concerns about the ongoing dispute", the White House said.
"He reiterated the importance of stopping terrorist financing and discrediting extremist ideology. The president also underscored that unity in the region is critical to accomplishing the Riyadh Summit's goals of defeating terrorism and promoting regional stability," the White House said. "President Trump, nevertheless, believes that the overriding objective of his initiative is the cessation of funding for terrorism," it said.
On Monday morning, Trump tweeted that he "spoke yesterday with the King of Saudi Arabia about peace in the Middle-East. Interesting things are happening!"
# Meanwhile, Qatari officials say the demands are so strict that the four countries never seriously intended them as a negotiating position and see them as being aimed at hobbling Doha's sovereignty. As we reported over the weekend, Qatar called the charges baseless and says the demands, which include closing al Jazeera TV and ejecting Turkish troops based there, are so severe that they seem intended to be rejected with the Qatar Foreign Minister saying that "There is no fear from our direction. We are ready to face the consequences."
Still, Qatar said it is interested in negotiating a fair and just solution to "any legitimate issues" of concern to fellow member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
The UAE's minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, has played down the chances of an escalation, saying "the alternative is not escalation but parting ways", suggesting Qatar may be forced out of the GCC. Gulf countries have insisted the demands were non- negotiable.
While it appears that neither side is particularly interested in escalating the Qatar "crisis" to its next level, whatever it may be, the most interesting news came out this morning when Reuters reported that Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz will not attend a July 7-8 summit of the Group of 20 leading global economies in Hamburg, Germany, a German government spokesman said on Monday, providing no reason for the decision.
Steffen Seibert said the Saudi government had notified Berlin that the 81-year-old monarch would not participate in the annual meeting of G20 leaders. It was not immediately clear what prompted the monarch's sudden change in plans....