President Trump offers to mediate talks on Qatar crisis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday said he would be willing to step in and mediate the worst dispute in decades among the U.S.-allied Gulf Arab states and Qatar, and said that he thinks a deal could come quickly.

"If I can help mediate between Qatar and, in particular, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, I would be willing to do so, and I think you would have a deal worked out very quickly," Trump said at a joint news conference with Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain cut diplomatic and trade links with Qatar on June 5, suspending air and shipping routes with the world's biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas, which is home to the region's biggest U.S. military base.

RELATED: Countries that cut ties with Qatar

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Countries that cut ties with Qatar

Saudi Arabia

In this photo, OPEC President, Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih, and OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo talk to journalists before the beginning of a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Vienna, Austria, May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

Egypt

In this photo, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (R) meets with the Head of the National Iraqi Alliance, Ammar Al-Hakim at the Ittihadiya presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt April 18, 2017 in this handout picture courtesy of the Egyptian Presidency. Picture taken April 18, 2017. The Egyptian Presidency/Handout

United Arab Emirates

In this photo, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Armed Forces Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan, center, attends the Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 21, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Bahrain

In this photo, U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 21, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Maldives

In this photo, Maldives former president Mohamed Nasheed speaks during an interview with Reuters in Colombo, Sri Lanka March 29, 2017. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

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The nations say Doha supports regional foe Iran and Islamists, charges Qatar's leaders deny. Kuwait has been trying to mediate the dispute.

"What is important is that we have stopped any military action," Sheikh Sabah said.

While both sides in the dispute have ruled out the use of armed force, some ordinary Qataris have said they worry about the possibility of military action, given the ferocity of the criticism their country has received from media in the four Arab states.

Sheikh Sabah said he had received a letter from Qatar that expressed willingness to discuss a list of 13 demands from its neighbors.

"We know that not all of these 13 demands are acceptable," Sheikh Sabah said, referring specifically to issues that affected Qatari sovereignty.

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"A great part of them will be resolved," he said.

Qatari officials have repeatedly said the demands are so draconian that they suspect the four countries never seriously intended to negotiate them, and were instead seeing to hobble Doha's sovereignty. At the same time, they have said Qatar is interested in negotiating a fair and just solution to ‘any legitimate issues’ of concern to fellow Gulf Cooperation Council member states.

(Reporting by James Oliphant in Washington and Reem Shamseddine in Khobar, Saudi Arabia; Writing by Roberta Rampton and William Maclean; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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