US envoys arrive in Kuwait for Qatar crisis shuttle diplomacy tour

'Retired general Anthony Zinni and deputy assistant secretary Timothy Lenderking are in the region this week engaging with parties and supporting the government of Kuwait’s mediation efforts,' a US state department told The National

PASADENA, CA - APRIL 20:  Ret. Gen. Anthony Zinni makes a stop to discuss and sign copies of his book "The Battle for Peace" at Vroman's Bookstore on April 20, 2006 in Pasadena, California. Zinni is one of a distinguished group of retired generals calling for the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld says that calls for his resignation "will pass" and U.S. President George W. Bush has expressed confidence in Rumsfeld?s job performance.  (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
Powered by automated translation

The United States' envoys in the Qatar crisis, retired general Anthony Zinni and deputy assistant secretary of state for Arabian Gulf affairs Timothy Lenderking, arrived in Kuwait on Monday evening to begin a shuttle diplomacy tour as part of efforts to break the stalemate in the dispute.

Kuwait has played a leading role in mediating the dispute between Doha and the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain.

"Retired general Anthony Zinni and deputy assistant secretary Timothy Lenderking are in the region this week engaging with parties and supporting the government of Kuwait's mediation efforts," a US state department official told The National on Monday.

From Kuwait, the US delegation will travel to Jeddah, Doha, Manama, Muscat, Abu Dhabi and Cairo, the official said.

Earlier on Monday, a Kuwaiti delegation delivered a letter from Kuwait's ruler to Saudi Arabia's King Salman, the state-run Kuwait News Agency said, adding that it was "related to the latest regional and international developments".

Meanwhile, Qatari media reported that Qatari and Turkish troops had staged joint military exercises near Doha.

US secretary of state Rex Tillerson announced on Thursday last week the addition of Mr Zinni, a widely respected and well-connected figure in the region, to the American diplomatic team tackling the two-month-old Qatar crisis.

“I’ve asked retired General Anthony Zinni to go with Tim [Lenderking] so that we can maintain a constant pressure on the ground, because I think that’s what it’s going to take,” said Mr Tillerson.

“There’s only so much you can do with telephone persuasion, but we are committed to see this disagreement resolved, restore Gulf unity, because we think it’s important to the long-term effort to defeat terrorism in the region."

Marcelle Wahba, president of the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington and a former US ambassador to the UAE, told The National that few American figures were as "well respected and well liked by all Gulf Cooperation Council governments as Anthony Zinni".

She described the retired general as a “perfect envoy to the region” given “his knowledge of both the issues that are at stake and all the key players involved”.

Mr Zinni served as former commander of the US Central Command between 1997 and 2000, a position that saw him cement US military relations with all the GCC partners.

Following his retirement from the American military, Mr Zinni was appointed as US special envoy to Israel and the Palestinian Authority during the second Intifada, before going on to lead missions to Pakistan, Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia.

Bringing the sides to the negotiating table is the ultimate goal of Mr Zinni and Mr Lenderking's trip, said Ms Wahba.