Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Thursday ended his first stab at mediating a bitter spat in the Persian Gulf region, an effort that took him to three countries over four days but yielded little discernible progress in resolving the dispute.

Tillerson headed home after meeting with Qatari officials to brief them on his talks Wednesday with diplomats from four Arab countries leading a trade and diplomatic boycott against Qatar — Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

From the beginning, State Department officials tried to tamp down expectations that much, if anything, would be accomplished on the trip. Last week, spokeswoman Heather Nauert warned that the quarrel may not be settled for months.

Although U.S. officials noted that Tillerson was just supporting the efforts of Kuwait, the official mediator, his first foray into shuttle diplomacy has thrust him into the forefront of the standoff.

His inability to resolve the dispute was made more awkward by a public gambit that Tillerson made Tuesday, signing a memorandum of understanding that says Qatar and the United States will cooperate in blocking channels used to funnel money to terrorists.


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Featured image courtesy of AP