France appoints envoy to mediate between Qatar, Arab states

A French flag flies at half-staff on the Grand Palais in Paris, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017.

:: France’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday that it picked its former ambassador to Saudi Arabia as a special envoy to see how Paris could support mediation efforts in the rift between Qatar and several of its neighbors.

Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber has led mediation efforts to resolve the row, which began in early June when Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt cut political and trade ties with Qatar.

France, which has close ties with Egypt and the United Arab Emirates while also being a major arms supplier to Qatar and a key ally of Saudi Arabia, has been relatively discreet on the crisis, largely sticking to calls for calm.

“I confirm that Bertrand Besancenot, diplomatic advisor to the government, will soon go to the region to evaluate the situation and the best ways to support the mediation and appease tensions between Qatar and its neighbors,” Foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes Romatet-Espagne told reporters in a daily briefing.

Qatar’s neighbors accuse it of supporting regional foe Iran and Islamists across the region, a charge Doha denies.

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