Doha (Reuters): France called on Saturday for a swift lifting of sanctions that target Qatari nationals in an effort to ease a month-long rift between the Gulf country and several of its neighbors.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt imposed sanctions on Qatar on June 5, accusing it of financing extremist groups and allying with the Gulf Arab states' arch-foe Iran. Doha denies the accusations.
"France calls for the lifting, as soon as possible, of the measures that affect the populations in particular, bi-national families that have been separated or students," French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters in Doha, after he met his counterpart Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani.
Le Drian was speaking alongside al-Thani, a few hours after his arrival in Doha. He is scheduled to visit Saudi Arabia later on Saturday and will visit Kuwait and the UAE on Sunday.
Le Drian follows in the steps of other world powers in the region, including the United States, whose Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sought to find a solution to the impasse this week.
Officials from Britain and Germany also visited the region with the aim of easing the conflict, for which Kuwait has acted as mediator between the feuding Gulf countries.
In a joint statement issued after Tillerson and al-Thani signed an agreement on Tuesday aimed at combating the financing of terrorism, the four Arab states leading the boycott on Qatar said the sanctions would remain in place.
They also reinstated 13 wide-ranging demands they had earlier submitted to Qatar, the world's biggest producer of liquefied natural gas, as a condition for removing sanctions.