The scheduled meeting of US President Trump with the Gulf leaders during this spring has been postponed to September due to the ongoing crisis in the region, according to US officials.
A few sources said that the decision to postpone the meet is a testimony to the fact that US has made little progress in resolving the issue between the two parties. The dispute has placed US in a tricky situation as two of its strong allies are pitted against each other.
“This was entirely our decision,” one U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said of the delay.
“We have too many irons in the fire in May,” the official added, noting that Trump may be meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un next month and that Pompeo has yet to be confirmed to replace Rex Tillerson.
A spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council said the delay was not tied to the Gulf tensions, adding that, “President Trump is committed to resolving the dispute this month.”
However, Trump did have a meeting with the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bib Salman at the White House in March and is expected to meet Qatari Emir HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani next week, which will be followed by a meeting with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed.
Meanwhile, Trump had a telephonic conversation with the Qatari emir, during which the strategic relations between the two countries were discussed.
A senior U.S. official said the summit was discussed during Salman’s Washington visit, and there was agreement that it would be better to delay the meeting until after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ends in mid-June.
“We’ll see what transpires between now and then, but based on the discussions to date, it is hard to be optimistic about a rapprochement” between the Gulf neighbors, he said.
The two officials involved in the discussions revealed that there have been signs of flexibility, including from Saudi Arabia.
“I think it makes sense (to delay the summit) as there seems to be movement on the beginning of a dialogue and more time to let it develop would be helpful,” one said.