There could be some progress within weeks in resolving a three year-long rift between Gulf Arab states, a senior United States State Department official said on Wednesday, citing signs of “flexibility” in negotiations.

The dispute dates from 2017 when the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt imposed a boycott on Qatar, severing diplomatic and transport ties and accusing it of supporting terrorism. Qatar denies allegations of supporting terrorism.

David Schenker, the department’s top diplomat for the Middle East, was quick to urge caution however, because there hasn’t been any fundamental shift in talks that would quickly lead to a resolution.

“I don’t want to get into the whole diplomacy in it but there is some movement. I would like to say that it’s going to be a matter of weeks,” Schenker told a virtual event by the Washington-based Brookings Institute.

Kuwait and the US have tried to mediate a rift that has undermined Washington’s efforts to form a united front against Iran, which is struggling for regional supremacy with Saudi Arabia.

In December last year, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani told Reuters that there has been “small progress, just a little progress” in solving the dispute.


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