Font Size

- Aa +

Tue 6 Jun 2017 10:40 AM

Font Size

- Aa +

Trump seeks to 'de-escalate' Gulf crisis

Secretary of Defense James Mattis remained positive there will be no implications for the counter-ISIL fight.

Trump seeks to 'de-escalate' Gulf crisis
(Getty Images)

The US said it will seek to defuse a growing rift between its energy-rich Gulf allies after Saudi Arabia led a drive to isolate Qatar by cutting off air and sea transport and closing the tiny nation’s only land border.

President Donald Trump wants to “de-escalate” the crisis and is committed to holding talks with all parties, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters Monday.

“The President is committed to continuing to have conversations with all of the people involved in that process, with all of those countries,” said Sanders. 

“We want to continue to deescalate that.  And at this point, we're continuing to work with each of those partners.”

Saudis and three regional allies - the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain - suspended flights and sea travel to Qatar, escalating a week-old row and sending Qatari stocks plunging, though there’s been no immediate impact on Gulf energy exports.

Saudi Arabia accused its fellow GCC member of supporting a range of violent groups, from proxies of Shiite Muslim Iran to the Sunni militants of ISIL. Qatar dismissed the charges as baseless, and said the Saudis are seeking to dominate their smaller neighbour.

The dispute among some of the world’s richest countries broke out days after Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia and it wasn’t clear if the US was alerted to the move in advance.

Sanders said she was not aware, and referred journalists at the White House press briefing to the State Department.

Speaking to media in Sydney, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson encouraged the parties to sit down together and address their differences.

“We think it is important that the GCC remain unified,” he said. “I do not expect that this will have any significant impact, if any impact at all, on the unified – the unified fight against terrorism in the region or globally. All of those parties you mentioned have been quite, quite unified in the fight against terrorism and the fight against Daesh and ISIS, and have expressed that most recently in the summit in Riyadh.”

Secretary of Defense James Mattis, speaking at the same briefing where they were meeting with Australian officials, said he was “positive there will be no implications coming out of this dramatic situation at all” regarding the counter-ISIL fight.

*With Bloomberg