EU urges Gulf states to ‘engage in direct dialogue’

EU Foreign Affairs head calls for lowering tensions following dispute between Qatar and Arab states led by Saudi Arabia

The European Union has called on Gulf countries to “deescalate the tensions and to engage in direct dialogue” following the ongoing crisis between Qatar and other Arab states in the region.

On June 5, five Arab countries — Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Yemen — cut off ties with Qatar, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism.

Qatar has denied the accusations, calling the moves to diplomatically isolate it as “unjustified”.

Speaking after her arrival at the Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg on Monday, EU Foreign Affairs head Federica Mogherini said: “Any difficulty, any tension, can be and must be resolved at a table, discussing, in dialogue, finding common ways, and politically.”

“No unilateral steps,” Mogherini said. “We invite all to deescalate the tensions and to engage in direct dialogue…

“Also because the European Union has a direct interest in having the Gulf countries cooperating among themselves — all of them are our partners in the fight against terrorism, all of them are our partners economically, and also in trying to solve some of the regional crises,” she said.

“The region is already fragile enough, dangerous enough, and we are starting to see dangerous spill-overs already both in the broader region but also in Africa and in Asia.

“There are worrying signals, so we really invite all to find a way to solve any tension, any controversies, at a table, discussing through dialogue, politically, without exacerbating tensions. It is always possible and even more so has to be possible among countries that belong to the Gulf Cooperation Countries.”