Two top U.S. government officials called on Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to resolve their dispute with their neighbor Qatar, saying that regional stability is at stake.
"As the Gulf dispute nears the eight-month mark, the United States remains as concerned today as we were at its outset," Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in opening remarks at the inaugural U.S.-Qatar "strategic dialogue" meeting on Tuesday.
"This dispute has had direct negative consequences economically and militarily for those involved, as well as the United States. We are concerned by the rhetoric and propaganda employed in the region, playing out daily in Arab mainstream and social media."
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain cut diplomatic ties and cut off transport links with Qatar in June 2017, accusing it of supporting Islamist groups and destabilizing the region, allegations that Qatar denies.
Saudi Arabia and its allies say they are boycotting the country rather than blockading it, but Qatar says its neighbors' actions are unjustified. The sanctions have weakened its economy slightly, according to official government data.
Relations deteriorated further in late summer 2017 after Qatar restored diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia's arch-rival Iran, ties that had been cut in 2016 after attacks on Saudi Arabia's embassy in Iran.