Tillerson leaves Gulf with no end in sight to Qatar crisis

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson wrapped up a four-day mission to the Gulf with little sign of progress in resolving the diplomatic crisis pitting Saudi Arabia and its allies against Qatar.

Tillerson met Qatar s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani for the second time in 48 hours, together with a Kuwaiti mediator, on the final leg of his trip. He then held talks with the Qatari foreign minister and the Kuwaiti team before heading back to Washington. In a possible indication of little headway to report, all sides left the meeting without saying a word to waiting reporters.

Despite an intense round of shuttle diplomacy that also took Tillerson to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, tensions remained high between Qatar and four Arab states that accuse Doha of supporting extremism and being too close to their arch-rival Iran.

The diplomatic slack now appears likely to be picked up again by the Europeans, with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian heading to the region at the weekend. A French diplomatic source in Paris said that Le Drian would try “to recreate confidence, create an interest of all parties to engage in de-escalation”.