Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has reacted to a stand-off between Qatar and its Arab neighbors of the Persian Gulf region, saying the parties to the dispute should embark on a dialogue to resolve their differences.
“We call for all contradictions to be resolved at the negotiation table through a mutually respectful dialogue,” Lavrov said in a meeting on Saturday in Moscow with his Qatari counterpart Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.
The top Russian diplomat said Moscow was saddened by a decision by some members of the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council to cut their diplomatic ties with Qatar, adding that it was in Russia's interest to see the countries of the region united in the fight against terrorism.
“As a matter of policy we do not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries or their bilateral relations with each other. But it does not give us joy when relations between our partners deteriorate,” said Lavrov.
For his part, the Qatari foreign minister said his country was also intent on engaging in talks with the neighbors to resolve the stand-off, saying the council would be the best mechanism for such negotiations.
The meeting between Lavrov and Al Thani comes more than a week after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain decided to cut diplomatic relations with Qatar and halt trade with the country. The three, along with Egypt and the Maldives, which have also closed their embassies in Qatar, have accused Qatar of supporting terrorism. Doha has denied the allegations while maintaining that the Saudis and allies have been constantly pressuring Qatar over the past months to dictate their foreign policy on the kingdom.