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Trying to end the Gulf dispute

U.S. President Donald Trump and Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani take part in a bilateral meeting in Riyadh on May 21, 2017. Photo: MANDEL NGAN / AFP / Getty Images
President Trump and Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. Photo: MANDEL NGAN / AFP / Getty Images

Trump has a consequential meeting on Tuesday with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani. The President badly wants to end the feud between the Gulf nations, which formally began last June when Saudi Arabia, the UAE and others severed diplomatic and trade links with Qatar and accused their neighbor of funding terrorists and buddying up with Iran.

Why this matters: The conflict puts the U.S. in a tricky spot, given it wants to focus on beating back Iran and relies on the Qataris for an airbase.

A senior administration official told me:

  • "The overarching goal is to end this dispute, which the president believes is only helping the Iranians. POTUS takes seriously the message he received from many Gulf leaders that Qatar was a major terrorist financing problem but he also believes the pressure put on them from the U.S. and allies has led to real change."
  • "He's encouraged they've signed a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. to cooperate more closely on fighting terrorism finance and are supporting the anti-terror finance center in Riyadh."

What's next: The White House still hopes to get all the leaders together but looking to do it later in the year rather than the Spring.

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