US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks at the Center for Strategic Studies (CSIS) on "Defining Our Relationship with India for the Next Century" in Washington, DC, on October 18, 2017. / AFP / JIM WATSON
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The United States will again try to resolve a Gulf crisis that Washington has alternatively fueled or tried to soothe, as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson heads back to the region.The top US diplomat did not himself hold out much hope of an immediate breakthrough in the stand-off between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, but the trip may clarify the issues at stake. Nevertheless, President Donald Trump's chief envoy is to leave Washington this weekend for Saudi Arabia and from there head on to Qatar, to talk through a breakdown in ties.Trump, after initially vocally support the effort to isolate Qatar despite its role as a military ally and host of a major US airbase, has not called for a negotiated resolution.Tillerson says there has been little movement. Simon Henderson, a veteran of the region now at the Washington Institute of Near East Policy, said the parties may humor US mediate but won't want to lose face to each other.
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