Qatar calls for 'dialogue' to resolve Gulf crisis
Qatar's foreign minister called for "dialogue" on Wednesday to resolve the Gulf diplomatic crisis, accusing Arab states that have cut ties with Qatar of trying to undermine the nation's sovereignty.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani was speaking at the Chatham House think tank in London, as the Arab states that have accused Qatar of supporting extremism met in Egypt to discuss their next move.
"As the 48 hours extension is coming to an end, Qatar continues to call for dialogue despite the violation of the international law... and despite the siege that is a clear aggression and an insult to all international treaties," he said.
"We welcome any serious efforts to resolve our differences with our neighbours," he said, adding however that countries imposing a blockade on Qatar should make the first move towards dialogue.
"They should not expect from me a first step, I should expect from them a first step for engagement," he said, without disclosing the details of a response that Qatar has given to the Arab states' demands.
He accused Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates of leading the campaign against Qatar and said they were "demanding that we must surrender our sovereignty as the price for ending the siege".
He called them "aggressors".
A group of Arab states including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates has severed air, sea and ground links with Qatar, cutting off vital routes for imports including food.
They have also ordered Qatari citizens to leave their territories and took various steps against Qatari firms and financial institutions.
The crisis has raised concerns of growing instability in the region, home to some of the world's largest energy exporters and key Western allies who host US military bases.
Energy-rich Qatar has been defiant throughout the crisis, insisting it can weather action taken against it.
The foreign minister said Qatar "never compromised collective security of the region" and said countries taking part in the blockade were guilty of "extraordinary, unprovoked and hostile actions".
"We sensed an understanding in European capitals that the blockade was illegal," he said.