Friday, 24 November, 2017

Tillerson urges nations to negotiate to resolve Qatar crisis

Artem Korotaev  TASS Artem Korotaev TASS
Sammy Stanley | 29 June, 2017, 09:03

In a list of 13 demands to end the confrontation, the four countries have demanded the base be closed, attracting a strong reaction from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who on Sunday labelled the call "disrespectful".

The United States though has cautioned that some of the demands would be hard for Qatar to accept, asking the Saudis for a clear list of grievances that are "reasonable and actionable".

Doha was also asked to close down Al Jazeera - a media network that has reportedly been critical of the absolute monarchy in Saudi Arabia - shut a Turkish military base, and pay up "compensation" for "damages" from purported terror sponsorship.

With a one-week Saudi deadline looming for Qatar to meet its demands, Tillerson had talks with Qatar Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.

Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt have cut ties with Qatar on terrorism funding charges.

Following the announcement that the nations were severing ties, Trump took credit for the move and cheered the announcement as evidence that his meeting in Saudi Arabia had unified the Arab countries in the fight against terrorism. This hardline stance goes against both Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary Tillerson's more diplomatic calls for an equitable solution among the Gulf States and their associates.

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Tillerson said that "a productive next step would be for each of the countries to sit together and continue this conversation".

In a June 20 briefing, spokesperson Heather Nauert said that Tillerson had held more than 20 calls and meetings with regional and global representatives, which included the foreign ministers of Qatar and Saudi Arabia as well as UAE leaders.

Erdoğan came fully out in support of Qatar during a speech on Sunday, calling the demands laid out by the other gulf states for lifting the blockade a breach of worldwide law. Officials have said the Saudi demands don't meet the criteria set out by the USA and United Kingdom governments for reasonable and realistic measures.

Tillerson is calling for direct dialogue.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on Tuesday that there would be no negotiations over demands by the kingdom and other Arab states for Qatar to stop supporting "terrorism". He urged them to "lower rhetoric" to ease tensions. The precision munitions are part of Trump's proposed $110 billion arms package to Riyadh, which the administration said would create U.S.jobs while also improving a key ally's military capability.

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