Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will travel next week to Kuwait to seek a resolution to the crisis over Qatar that has roiled the Persian Gulf. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said yesterday that Tillerson would visit Kuwait City on Monday following visits to Ukraine and Turkey. Tillerson is expected to meet with Kuwaiti officials who have been trying to mediate, but his presence in the region leaves open the possibility that he may try to shuttle between the neighboring countries to forge a resolution. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt cut off diplomatic ties to Qatar a month ago while accusing the tiny nation of funding terrorism and spreading unrest. Qatar has refused to comply in whole with a list of demands from its neighbors.
The US has been supporting Kuwait’s mediation efforts, but Tillerson’s trip will mark a new level of US involvement in trying to broker a resolution. Earlier yesterday, the US warned that the crisis over Qatar is at an impasse and may not be quickly resolved. Nauert told reporters: “We’ve become increasingly concerned that that dispute is at an impasse at this point. We believe that this could potentially drag on for weeks; it could drag on for months; it could possibly even intensify.” She didn’t specify what type of escalation the US fears. But she said Tillerson is in close contact with the countries involved.