France seeks end to Saudi-bloc measures that have split families

DOHA • France is seeking an end to the isolation of Qatar that has separated families across the region amid a spat between a Saudi-led group of nations and their gas-rich neighbour.

France is calling to “lift the siege” and end “the efforts that have led to the interruption of relations between different members of families that have been harmed as a result”, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said at a joint press conference in Doha with his Qatari counterpart. “We are looking forward to concrete measures that are going to lead to the de-escalation of the situation, because this crisis isn’t going to benefit any of the parties.”

The French minister is the third senior western official to visit Doha over the past week. UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson met with his counterpart and the emir, and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson came twice as part of a shuttle diplomacy that included meetings in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia in an effort to resolve the crisis.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic and trade links with Qatar over a month ago.

Tillerson said that taking “some of these issues off the table” could create an opening to more meaningful talks between the Gulf neighbours, but “the final and ultimate resolution may take quite a while”. — Bloomberg