France joins calls to end punitive measures in Qatar diplomacy row

France joins calls to end punitive measures in Qatar diplomacy row

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani

France’s foreign minister has called on Qatar’s neighbours to immediately lift measures impacting thousands of people in the Gulf, becoming the latest foreign diplomat to visit the region and attempt to find a resolution to a crisis that has dragged on for more than a month.

Last month, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with Qatar and moved to isolate the small, but wealthy Gulf nation, cancelling air routes between their capitals and Qatar’s and closing their airspace to Qatari flights.

Saudi Arabia also sealed Qatar’s only land border, impacting a key source of food imports in the mostly desert nation. The four countries also expelled all Qatari nationals, impacting mixed-nationality families in the Gulf, students and people seeking medical treatment abroad, among others. Prior to the dispute, Qataris could travel visa-free between the Gulf countries.

France Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said such punitive measures should end. “France is calling for these measures to be lifted, especially ones that affect the (Qatari) population, specifically measures that impact bi-national families that have been separated,” Mr Le Drian said. He was speaking to reporters in Qatar alongside Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, who said he welcomed mediation efforts and possible negotiations so long as they are founded on respect for “sovereignty”.

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