Russia Says It's Willing to Help U.S. Mediate Qatar-Saudi Rift

  • Russia’s Lavrov, U.S.’s Tillerson discussed Qatar by phone
  • Officials agreed to assist in easing tensions in Middle East

QuickTake: Qatar's Global Rise to Power

Russia and the U.S. are ready to help resolve a diplomatic rift in the Middle East over Qatar’s alleged support for militants and ties to Iran, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Sunday.

Sergei Lavrov, the foreign minister, discussed Qatar with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a phone call Saturday. Both “stressed the need to resolve the disagreements through negotiation and expressed their readiness to contribute to such efforts,” the ministry said in a statement.

Sergei Lavrov

Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

A coalition of Gulf nations led by Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties and imposed a blockade on land, sea and air travel with Qatar on June 5, accusing the country of supporting Sunni extremist groups and Iranian-backed Shiite militants to destabilize the region. Qatar has denied it backs terrorists and accuses the Saudis of seeking to dominate their smaller neighbors.

While President Donald Trump said Friday he backed the movement to isolate Qatar over its funding of extremist groups, Tillerson has called on the Saudi-led coalition to ease the blockade.

On other issues, the ministry said Lavrov told Tillerson it was unacceptable for the U.S. to attack pro-government forces in Syria. The two officials confirmed their willingness to cooperate to help end the conflict in the country, according to the statement. They also discussed the situation in Ukraine and Russia-U.S. issues including future contacts, it said without elaborating.

— With assistance by Stepan Kravchenko

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