Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Doha on Monday as part of a Gulf tour aimed at defusing a dispute between Turkey’s ally Qatar and neighbouring Arab states.
Erdogan was greeted by Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani in Doha ahead of their first face-to-face talks on the Gulf crisis, state-run Qatar News Agency reported.
Turkey has sided with Qatar in the crisis, the worst to hit the region since the 1981 establishment of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council.
The Turkish president had held talks on Sunday in Kuwait, which is leading mediation efforts in the crisis, and Saudi Arabia, where King Salman hailed the Turkish leader’s “efforts in the fight against terrorism and its financing”.
Erdogan has voiced support for the mediation efforts of Kuwait, a possible indication Ankara sees Kuwait as the key to resolving the crisis.
On June 5, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Bahrain suspended diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar over allegations that Doha had too close ties with Iran and supported Islamist extremist groups. Qatar has denied the allegations.
Qatar’s emir on Friday said he was open to talks with the Saudi-led bloc if the nation’s “sovereignty” was respected.
His call received a cold reception from the UAE’s state minister for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, who wanted Qatar to review its policies.
“Dialogue is necessary, but it should be based on a revision of Qatar’s stance,” he tweeted.
Qatar has emerged as Turkey’s number one ally in the Middle East in recent years, with Ankara and Doha closely coordinating over issues including the Syria conflict where the two are staunch foes of President Bashar Al Assad.
Turkey is also setting up a military base in Qatar, its only such outpost in the region. It has expedited the process since the crisis began and reportedly now has 150 troops in the emirate.