Turkish president meets Qatari leader over Gulf dispute
By ADAM SCHRECK, Associated Press
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Turkey’s president on Monday urged Qatar and Arab countries isolating it to negotiate an end to the crisis dividing them as he wrapped up a two-day Gulf tour.
Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said in a brief statement that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan voiced his support for mediation efforts being led by Kuwait and said initiatives underway to resolve the crisis through dialogue should continue.
Erdogan traveled to Qatar on Monday for talks with Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who has said Qatar is open to dialogue so long as it respects his country’s sovereignty.
He earlier met with King Salman of Saudi Arabia, which leads an anti-Qatar bloc that includes the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain, before holding talks with the emir of Kuwait.
On his return to the Turkish capital Ankara, Erdogan said he believed his visit would help restore trust between the sides.
“Destruction is easy but reconstructing what’s destroyed is hard,” Erdogan told reporters. “Our last visit and contacts are an important step toward reinstalling stability and an atmosphere mutual trust.”
The quartet cut diplomatic ties and transport links with Qatar in early June, accusing it of supporting extremists. Qatar strongly denies the allegation and sees the dispute as politically motivated.
Erdogan’s Gulf trip follows visits aimed at defusing the crisis by the top diplomats of Britain, France, Germany and the United States, underscoring the depth of concern the crisis is causing well beyond the region.
Turkey has built increasingly close ties with Qatar in recent years, including opening its first military base in the Persian Gulf there last year.
New Turkish troops have arrived since the Gulf rift erupted, raising fears of an escalation with the countries seeking to isolate it. The anti-Qatar quartet included expelling the Turkish troops as one of its list of demands to resolve the dispute.