Thursday, 19 April, 2018

Saudi Arabia refuses to budge on demands in Qatar row

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to the media after the Eid al Fitr prayers in Istanbul early Sunday Iran seeks stronger ties with Qatar: Rouhani
Sammy Stanley | 29 June, 2017, 07:33

The diplomatic and economic isolation of Qatar has sparked what has been deemed one of the worst crises in the Gulf in recent years.

Tillerson met with Qatar Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani this week, the first meeting since the blockade began, the statement said.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert recently questioned whether Qatar's alleged support for terrorist groups is the real reason for the embargoes.

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir has said that Arab states' demands from Qatar are non-negotiable.

Saudi Arabia and its allies require Qatar to cut diplomatic relations with Iran, close the Turkish military base, eliminate Al-Jazeera TV channel and extradite all persons wanted in four countries on charges of terrorism.

"To ask Turkey to pull out its troops from Qatar is firstly disrespectful behaviour towards us", he said in Istanbul, according to Reuters.

In a letter sent to U.S. secretary of state Rex Tillerson on Monday, Republican senator Bob Corker said the country needed a better understanding of how to resolve the dispute before selling more weapons to the region.

The four Arab governments announced earlier this month they were suspending all ties with Qatar, accusing it of support for extremist groups - a claim Doha denies.

FT: Insurance industry warned of fire risk month before tower block blaze
There are unsafe blocks also in seven London boroughs - Barnet, Brent, Camden, Hounslow, Islington, Lambeth and Wandsworth. Prime Minister Theresa May says "the government is supporting local authorities" testing their apartment blocks.

Tillerson has said he hopes the list of demands would be "reasonable and actionable".

Qatar was told it had 10 days to meet the countries' requests.

Speaking at the same event, the Iranian foreign minister Zarif said the countries who blamed Iran or Qatar for terrorism were trying to avoid taking responsibility for their own failures in addressing the demands of their own people.

"Bringing in foreign armies and their armored vehicles is the military escalation that Qatar has created", he added.

Tillerson said "there are significant areas which provide a basis for ongoing dialogue leading to resolution". "We continue to call on those countries to work together and work this out".

The State Department and Pentagon have reiterated that they would like a quick end to the standoff; the biggest US military base in the region, and the launching pad for USA strikes on Islamic State, is in Qatar.

The threat by Bob Corker, who is chair of the Senate foreign relations committee, comes after Donald Trump used a trip to Saudi Arabia to announce plans to unveil one of the largest arms deals in U.S. history worth up to $128bn.

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