UAE to Mediate in Row between Qatar and Bahrain, Saudis Urge for Restraint

Published May 21st, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

The United Arab Emirates has begun an effort to mediate to prevent a worsening of relations between Bahrain and Qatar over their territorial dispute, a UAE minister was quoted as saying by AFP Saturday.In the meanwhile, Saudi Arabia urged both parties to pay more efforts towards a settlement of the dispute. 

Minister of state for foreign affairs, Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed al-Nahyan, said he went to Manama Saturday to deliver a verbal message in the spirit of mediation from UAE President Sheikh Zayed al-Nahyan, to the Emir of Bahrein, Sheikh Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa. 

"I had contact yesterday in the same way with the foreign minister of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabr al-Thani," the UAE minister said in comments reported by the official WAM news agency. 

He said he hoped "the brothers in Qatar and Bahrain" would not miss any opportunity to "preserve the positive developments in their relations over the recent months," adding that the leadership of the two countries had demonstrated cooperation with "the good offices offered by the Emirates for more than a year." 

He said the period between and the May 29 date for the matter being taken up by the International Court of Justice in The Hague, "does not leave much chance of work" to bring the two together. 

But he added that the UAE was ready to continue its efforts after a verdict from the court with the aim of "softening the consequences which would result, and preserving brotherly relations between the two countries." 

Gulf Arab power Saudi Arabia told its allies Qatar and Bahrain it was worried by the breakdown of their talks on a territorial dispute and urged them to work hard against any escalation in the row.  

An official Saudi statement said the kingdom was "not satisfied and was worried and sorry" over the collapse in talks.  

Bahrain said on Friday it was suspending talks with Qatar on the long-standing dispute over the Gulf's Hawar islands because Doha failed to respond to its proposals to resolve the matter.  

 

SAUDI ARABIA URGES RESTRAINT  

 

According to Reuters, Saudi Arabia urged Bahrain and Qatar "to give priority to public interest...and work hard not to escalate matters and to revive the atmosphere of affection, understanding and cooperation as the best way to achieve stability...," said the statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency late on Saturday.  

The Saudi call followed a similar plea for self-restraint by United Arab Emirates Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Sheikh Hamdan bin Zaid al-Nahayan, who visited Bahrain on Saturday as part of mediation efforts.  

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman are allies in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) regional alliance.  

In 1986, Qatar and Bahrain went to the brink of war over the row which was averted by the intervention of Saudi King Fahd.  

A foreign ministry statement said Bahrain would suspend talks at a committee headed by the two states' crown princes which was formed to try to resolve the dispute over the small but potentially oil- and gas-rich islands in the Gulf, controlled by Bahrain since the 1930s but also claimed by Qatar.  

A Qatari official said on Saturday Qatar would continue to seek a ruling by the International Court of Justice on the dispute.  

Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani told the official Qatari news agency (QNA) following talks in Cairo with his Egyptian counterpart Amr Moussa that mediation by third countries was not needed yet.  

Qatar took the dispute to the world court in The Hague in 1991, angering Bahrain which favored regional mediation. The court is expected to start hearing the case on May 29.  

The two states had earlier agreed to withdraw the case from the World Court if they agreed on a settlement before the hearings began – (Several Sources)  

 

 

 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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