World News

Kuwait says GCC to keep operating despite Qatar crisis

DUBAI (Reuters) - Kuwait’s deputy foreign minister said on Wednesday that the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council would continue to operate despite a row among three of its members and Qatar that it has unsuccessfully sought to mediate.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain plus non-GCC member Egypt cut off diplomatic, travel and trade ties with Qatar in June, accusing it of supporting militants and their arch-foe Iran.

Doha denies the charges and says their move is aimed at curtailing its sovereignty.

Western nations have called for the countries, which are all close U.S. allies, to settle their differences in talks.

The heads of state from the three boycotting countries skipped a GCC summit hosted by Kuwait’s ruler in December, and the UAE called for the formation of a bilateral committee with Saudi Arabia on economic, political and military issues.

But Kuwait appears determined to preserve the loose union set up in 1980 as a bulwark against larger neighbors Iraq and Iran, and said its reconciliation efforts would proceed.

Despite the spat which appears to have no end in sight, the GCC’s work “will not be frozen or disrupted,” Khaled Jarallah was quoted by state news agency KUNA as telling reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Kuwait.

“After the summit in Kuwait, we are not worried about the future of the council,” Jarallah added.

“Mediation efforts have not stopped, and a breakthrough will be achieved one day.”

Reporting By Omar Fahmy and Noah Browning; Editing by Hugh Lawson