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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

Qatar emir meets with France's Macron to discuss crisis

The meeting at the Elysee Palace on Friday came hours after Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani said at a joint news conference with German chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin that Doha was ready to negotiate an end to the Qatar crisis

French president Emmanuel Macron shakes hands with Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad upon his arrival at the Elysee Palace on September 16, 2017. Ludovic Marin / AFP
French president Emmanuel Macron shakes hands with Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad upon his arrival at the Elysee Palace on September 16, 2017. Ludovic Marin / AFP

Amid increasing pressure on Doha, the Qatari emir met with French president Emmanuel Macron to discuss his country's diplomatic row with other Arab countries.

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani is on a charm offensive to try to push back against his country's isolation, with Paris being the third stop of his first foreign tour since the crisis erupted.

The meeting at the Elysee Palace on Friday came hours after Sheikh Tamim said at a joint news conference with German chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin that Doha was ready to negotiate an end to the crisis.

"Qatar is prepared to take a seat at the table to solve this problem," Sheikh Tamim said, citing that is has been more than 100 days since the Arab boycott of his country.

“We still support Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed’s mediation attempt and we will continue to do so until we find a solution that satisfies all parties,” he added, referring to the Kuwaiti emir.

Sheikh Tamim left the Elysee Palace without speaking to the press, however.

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The first stop on Sheikh Tamim's tour was Turkey, where on Thursday he met with president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss the crisis which has seen Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with Doha over its support of extremist groups.

Sheikh Tamim is also expected to meet with US president Donald Trump in New York on Tuesday ahead of his American counterpart's first address to the United Nations General Assembly.

Mr Trump said last week that he would be willing to mediate the worst diplomatic dispute in the GCC's history during a meeting with Kuwait's Sheikh Sabah who has been leading mediation efforts to resolve the crisis.

Mr Macron on Friday urged and end to the crisis.

The quartet says it is willing to lift the embargo if Qatar agrees to negotiate and discuss the four countries' grievances with Doha's interference in the internal affairs of its neighbours.

Mrs Merkel, meanwhile, said on Friday that she hoped dialogue could lead to "fair compromises".

"It's cause for great concern that after 100 days a solution to this conflict is still not in sight," she said at a joint news conference with Sheikh Tamim.

Both Paris and Berlin back diplomatic efforts led by Kuwait, a key mediator in the crisis along with the United States.

At Sheikh Tamim's meeting in Ankara with Mr Erdogan, the two leaders "stressed the need for a resolution through diplomatic means", the Turkish president's office said.

Turkey has been a major supporter of Qatar since the boycott began on June 5. It has delivered food and other supplies and accelerated the deployment of troops to its military base near Doha.