Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with his Saudi counterpart, Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir in Washington yesterday to discuss the ongoing diplomatic situation in the GCC and other regional challenges.
In brief remarks to reporters before the meeting, Foreign Minister Al-Jubeir said that there was no “blockade” of Qatar and that Saudi Arabia was exercising its sovereign right to prevent Qatar from using its airspace.
“There is – there is no blockade of Qatar. Qatar is free to go – the ports are open, the airports are open. What we have done is we have denied them use of our airspace, and this is our sovereign right. The limitation on the use of Saudi airspace is only limited to Qatari airways or Qatari-owned aircraft, not anybody else. The seaports of Qatar are open; there is no blockade on them. Qatar can move goods in and out whenever they want; they just cannot use our territorial waters,” Al-Jubeir said.
“So technically, this is not a blockade. We have exercised our sovereign right to prohibit them from using our airspace. We have allowed the movement of families between the two countries to happen so that we don’t divide families, and we are prepared to provide Qatar with food and medical supplies, should they need this, through the King Salman Center,” Al-Jubeir said.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters that the dialogue between the top diplomats over the situation in the Gulf was “hopeful.”
“Together they talked about the need … to come together, to work together. I would characterize the mood and the approach to that as being one that is hopeful, that believes that the worst is behind us,” Nauert said.