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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

Saudi Foreign Minister: Camp David summit would not be about Qatar

Adel Al Jubeir said Qatar’s new designations are 'an acknowledgement' of the problem

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir did not rule out the possibility of a Camp David summit later this Spring. (AFP)
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir did not rule out the possibility of a Camp David summit later this Spring. (AFP)

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister Adel Al Jubeir, speaking at the end of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s trip to Washington, highlighted the signing of US-Saudi memorandums and agreements, and did not rule out the possibility of a Camp David summit later this spring.

Mr Al Jubeir, speaking at the tail end of a five-day-visit to Washington where the Crown Prince met President Donald Trump and key members of his cabinet, confirmed that agreements on the political and economic side were signed. “We have signed agreements in various fields to increase Saudi-US cooperation,” he told reporters at a press conference held at the Saudi embassy on Friday.

Mr Al Jubeir emphasised a mutual Saudi and American approach to deepen economic, counterterrorism and defence ties. On Thursday the Trump administration announced a $670 million arms sale to Saudi Arabia.

The talks also involved "advanced discussions with the US side on peaceful use of nuclear energy", Mr Al Jubeir said. This is the second round of discussions on the issue after meetings in London last month attended by US Energy Secretary Rick Perry. Riyadh is looking to acquire the capability to build peaceful nuclear reactors, and is in talks with US, Russia, China, South Korea, France and Japan about possible co-operation.

Asked by The National about 19 new reported terror designations by Qatar, 10 of whom were targeted last year by the Arab Quartet, Mr Al Jubeir welcomed the move. "This is an acknowledgement of the problem... We hope that Qatar will return to the right path and correct its mistakes," the kingdom's top diplomat said.

However, if the US were to host a Camp David summit in May it would not be about Qatar, with whom there has been a nine-month dispute, Mr Al Jubeir told The National. The dispute with Doha is an "inter-GCC problem", he said.

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Both US official and regional sources also told The National that the White House was informed that a Camp David summit will not address Qatar. Instead, it could be about countering violent extremism (CVE) a year after the Riyadh summit, and would tackle the Iran threat.

Washington has not yet finalised the decision about hosting this summit, but is expected to make the decision by mid April.

The UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash also tweeted on Friday about the Qatar designations.

"The Qatari ministry of interior issued a terrorist list that includes 19 individuals and 8 entities, 10 of those individuals on the list have been designated on the three lists issued by the boycotting countries. Away from obstinacy, Qatar is confirming the evidence against it and that its support for extremism and terrorism is at the core of its crisis."

The new designations reportedly include 11 Qataris, among them Abd Rahman Omar Nouaimi - also designated by the US Treasury - and the “Wliayat Sinai” group that is active in Egypt and is part of ISIL.

Mr Al Jubeir praised the newly appointed US National Security Adviser John Bolton. He called him a "friend" and someone who is firm on the Iran nuclear deal. Mr Al Jubeir said the deal has flaws related to the sunset clause, ballistic missile threat and Iran’s regional behaviour.

Asked about The National’s report that Iran has signalled through an international party its willingness to talk about Yemen, Mr Al Jubeir condemned Tehran’s destructive role in the war including arming the Houthis with ballistic missiles. He said that Iran's missile-smuggling was discussed with US partners and "if Iran wants to have a role in the region, it must respect its neighbours."

The Saudi Crown Prince met with US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. He is expected to leave to Boston late on Friday where he will visit Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology campuses, as well as meet executives from software and computer companies in the Boston area.