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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pushes for end to Gulf dispute during Qatar visit

The Gulf crisis, which began when four neighbouring countries decided to impose a unilateral blockade on Qatar, is now in its 19th month.

While Qatar has made several attempts to solve the crisis, including emphasising the importance of dialogue between nations, things have not moved forward.

Now, American Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is currently on a visit to the region, said the crisis had gone on for long enough and that it needed to end soon, reported Al Jazeera.

Speaking at a Press conference in Doha, Pompeo argued that the continuing Gulf crisis between Qatar on one side and Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE on the other, benefited only their adversaries.

“We’re all more powerful when we’re working together, and disputes are limited. When we have a common challenge, disputes between countries with shared objectives are never helpful,” Pompeo said at joint news conference with Qatar’s Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani.

“It’s time for old rivalries to end for the sake of the greater good of the region,” Pompeo had earlier said in Cairo, Egypt, where he laid out US President Donald Trump’s Middle East strategy.

The secretary of state had earlier met UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed on Saturday before travelling to Doha, reported The Peninsula.

Pompeo is expected to head to Riyadh soon, where he is likely to meet Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Attempts at mediation to end the crisis have stalled, with US envoy Anthony Zinni, who had been tasked with resolving the crisis, resigned citing an apparent ‘lack of will’ on behalf of ‘regional leaders’ for regional reconciliation.

Pompeo said he signed a MoU with Qatar regarding the expansion and renovation of the Al Udeid Air Base, which hosts the forward headquarters of the US military’s Central Command and some 10,000 American troops, reported Star Tribune.

“The departure of Mr Zinni in no way reflects any change in America’s Middle East efforts, our strategy or our ongoing commitment to the region,” Pompeo said.

“It was a time for a change. He made this decision to move on, but America’s commitment remains unchanged.”

For Washington, turning the page on the crisis is essential for the successful launch of the Strategic Alliance of the Middle East (MESA), which is a NATO-style security pact that includes Gulf countries as well as Egypt and Jordan.

“It’s complicated to put together, make no mistake about it, because we’re talking about a complex agreement among a number of nations where we’re asking for significant commitments from them,” Pompeo had told reporters in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

“But I believe there’s a path forward where there’s a set of common understandings,” he added.

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