KUWAIT CITY, August 28. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will go on a brief tour of the Persian Gulf countries starting with Kuwait on Monday. During his tour, he will also make visits to the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
While in Kuwait, the Russian top diplomat will be received by Emir Sheikh Sabah Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and hold talks with Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah. Lavrov previously visited Kuwait in February 2014.
During his visit to Abu Dhabi, Lavrov is scheduled to hold meetings with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, as well as with Foreign Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. In Doha, the Russian foreign minister will hold talks with Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Qatari top diplomat Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdul Rahman Al-Thani and Defense Minister Khalid bin Mohammad al-Attiyah.
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the Russian delegation plans to discuss the current state of relations with the three countries, as well as the prospects for their further development. "The plan is to jointly assess the implementation of the decisions made earlier by the leadership of Russia and these countries," Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said. "We believe that maintaining regular political dialogue, increasing trade, continuing cooperation in the energy sphere, metal industry and other fields is our common task," she added.
The parties are also likely to discuss the situation on the energy market, particularly the level of oil production.
Moscow considers the foreign minister’s tour as part of the work aimed at promoting multifaceted and mutually beneficial cooperation with its partners in the Middle East and North Africa. "We believe that such fruitful interaction is in the long-term interests of Russia and the countries of the region, besides, it also serves the cause of peace and stability," the Russian Foreign Ministry stressed.
During the upcoming talks, special attention will be paid to the crisis in relations between Doha and a number of Arab countries. On June 5, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, as well as Yemen, the interim government of Libya, the Maldives and Mauritius announced cutting diplomatic relations with Qatar citing Doha’s hostile policies, interference in other Arab countries’ internal affairs and support of terrorism. Mauritania and the Comoro Islands later followed this example, while Jordan and Djibouti reduced their diplomatic representation in Qatar. However, Doha said these actions were unreasonable and rejected all accusations as groundless.
Russia said it would not meddle in the situation. Moscow also expressed hope that the issue would be solved peacefully and would not become an obstacle in the fight against terrorism.
On June 22, four Arab countries, including Bahrain, laid down conditions for restoring diplomatic relations, which particularly included reducing ties with Iran, closing the Al-Jazeera TV channel and putting an end to military cooperation with Turkey. Qatar’s government said that the demands were unacceptable as they had nothing to do with the fight against terrorism but aimed to limit the country’s sovereignty.
Later, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates set 13 conditions before Qatar, while Kuwait has been acting as a mediator. The Emir of Kuwait put forward an initiative to host a high-level meeting between the opposing sides.
Russia has been fully supporting efforts to ease tensions. "We have been calling on the interested countries to abandon confrontational rhetoric and start resolving issues at the negotiating table in order to reach compromises," the Russian Foreign Ministry pointed out adding that "we particularly support the Kuwaiti leadership’s mediation efforts."
The Persian Gulf crisis also involves the Syrian issue, particularly given the regional countries’ influence on the Syrian opposition. It is a known fact that a number of opposition groups, namely the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), have been enjoying the support of both Qatar and Saudi Arabia. According to some sources, disagreements are emerging among the committee members that hamper consultations between the HNC, the Moscow and the Cairo groups of the Syrian opposition. The consultations are aimed at forming a single delegation to the talks with the Syrian government, which is the main political aspect of the intra-Syrian talks in Geneva, with the next round scheduled to be held before the end of September.
Russia plans to inform Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar about its efforts made the Astana process, particularly about the setup of de-escalation zones in Syria, as well as exchange views on the Geneva talks.