Saudi Arabia suspends talks with Qatar over protocol row
Saudi Arabia has suspended dialogue with Qatar, shortly after a phone call between Qatar's emir and the Saudi crown prince. Both sides had reportedly expressed willingness to start discussions to resolve the ongoing Qatar crisis. However, Saudi Arabia later said it was ending talks after accusing Qatar of distorting facts. The call was the first formal contact between both countries since the crisis began.
On June 4, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic, land and air ties with Qatar accusing it of backing terrorist groups including ISIS, al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt and Saudi Arabia justified the move based on preventing threats to national security from extremism and terrorism. Abu Dhabi based Etihad Airlines also temporarily suspended its flights to Qatar.
The phone call took place between Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. It was seen as a possible breakthrough in the gridlock. The call was coordinated by US President Donald Trump, who had earlier called both leaders and urged "unity." Previous diplomatic efforts led by Kuwait and Western powers have failed to end the dispute.
The Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported that Qatar's leader had "expressed his desire to sit at the dialogue table and discuss the demands of the four countries." The Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported that the Saudi crown prince proposed designating "two envoys to resolve controversial issues in a way that does not affect the sovereignty of states."
Shortly after the press releases, Saudi Arabia said communications between it and Qatar would be suspended. It accused Qatar of not being "serious" about dialogue. Observers believe the row is all about protocol. Saudi Arabia appears to be angry that Qatari state media QNA didn't make it clear that Doha initiated the phone call.