Diplomacy key to ending Gulf row, Putin tells Qatar emir

Russian President Vladimir Putin has stressed the importance of diplomacy to end a dispute between Qatar and several other Arab states during a telephone call with Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, the Kremlin said on Saturday.

The Kremlin said in a statement the Russian and Qatari leaders also discussed cooperation between their countries in energy and investment.

Earlier on Saturday, the Kremlin said Putin had spoken with Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa by telephone about the Qatar dispute.

The Kremlin, which announced the phone calls in two separate statements on its website on Saturday, did not say when they happened.

It clarified that they happened on the initiative of Qatar and Bahrain.

“Vladimir Putin stressed the importance of political-diplomatic efforts aimed at overcoming differences of opinion and the normalization of the difficult situation that exists,” said the statement on the talks between Putin and Qatar’s emir.

The Russian and Qatari leaders also discussed cooperation between their countries in energy and investment.

In his call with the Bahraini king, Putin stressed the need for direct dialogue between all governments involved in the dispute, which is exerting a negative influence on the Middle East, the Kremlin said.

The Kremlin said last month that a “stable and peaceful” situation in the Gulf was in Russia’s interest.

Moscow is trying to tread cautiously in the dispute since it wants good relations with both Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Russia backs President Bashar Assad in the six-year-long Syria conflict and is close to Iran, which has fraught ties with Riyadh.

Moscow sold a stake in its state oil champion Rosneft to Qatar last year and has been coordinating oil output cuts with the Saudis as part of a global pact to lift oil prices.

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