Saudi Arabia says end to yearslong Qatar boycott 'in reach'

FILE - In this Oct. 14, 2020 file photo, Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud speaks during his meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, at the State Department in Washington.  Saudi Arabias foreign minister has expressed optimism that the ongoing boycott of Qatar by four Arab nations may be nearing an end. Prince Faisal bin Farhan made the comment to the Italys annual Mediterranean Dialogues on Friday, Dec. 4.(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, POOL, File)
FILE - In this Oct. 14, 2020 file photo, Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud speaks during his meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, at the State Department in Washington. Saudi Arabias foreign minister has expressed optimism that the ongoing boycott of Qatar by four Arab nations may be nearing an end. Prince Faisal bin Farhan made the comment to the Italys annual Mediterranean Dialogues on Friday, Dec. 4.(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, POOL, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

DUBAI – Saudi Arabia's top diplomat said Friday that an end to the yearslong boycott of Qatar by the kingdom and three other Arab nations “looks in reach” for all involved, though he offered no details on how this feud would be resolved.

The remarks by Saudi Prince Faisal bin Farhan followed comments earlier in the day from Kuwait, which has been mediating in the dispute and which said that ongoing talks over the crisis have been “fruitful.”

Resolving the dispute could restore calm among nations at the heart of American defense strategy in the Middle East, especially as tensions remain high with Iran and as President-elect Joe Biden is poised to enter the White House next month.

However, the other three nations boycotting Qatar — Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates — did not immediately acknowledge this burst of optimism. Over a year ago, a similar hope for an end to the dispute quickly faded.

The boycott has torn apart the typically clubby Gulf Cooperation Council, a six-nation group comprised of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Qatar, an energy-rich nation that will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, has seen its state-run Qatar Airways blocked from the boycotting nations’ airspace and its only land border to Saudi Arabia shut over the crisis.

Speaking to Italy’s annual Mediterranean Dialogues, Prince Faisal, who is also the kingdom's foreign minister, said: “We’ve made significant progress in the last few days.” He thanked Kuwait and President Donald Trump by name.

“We hope that this progress can lead to a final agreement which looks in reach,” the prince said. "And I can say I am somewhat optimistic that we are close to finalizing an agreement between all the nations in the dispute to come to a resolution that we think will be satisfactory to all.”