Qatar, in regional crisis, hires former US attorney general

Cavusoglu said the aim of the base in Qatar is to contribute to the security and stability of all Gulf countries.

Until the political dispute, which has cut air links and banned Qataris from visiting the three countries, Gulf societies enjoyed close travel ties and many families are intermarried.

The Turkish leader has urged Saudi Arabia, as "the largest and most powerful state in the Gulf", to reduce tensions and lift sanctions. Only an hour later, Tillerson sat in the front row in the Rose Garden as Trump enthusiastically embraced the move by Saudi Arabia, Egypt and others to punish Qatar. On Sunday, Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al Khaled Al Sabah said in a statement that Qatar is "willing to hold a dialogue" to end the crisis and that unity among Gulf nations remains "paramount".

Doha is a major global travel hub, but flagship carrier Qatar Airways now flies increasingly over Iran and Turkey after being blocked elsewhere in the Middle East.

The escalating crisis in the Persian Gulf erupted this week when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain cut ties to Qatar, accusing the country of tolerating or even encouraging support for extremist groups, including al Qaida's Syria branch.

Qatar denies it has backed extremist groups and says the allegations are based on fabricated news and politically motivated.

Mr Erdogan was meeting Bahrain's foreign minister on Saturday.

Saudi Arabia said it was committed to "decisive and swift action to cut off all funding sources for terrorism" in a statement carried by the state news agency SPA, while Bahrain hailed usa efforts to ensure "international solidarity" on the issue. They also warned that anyone who expresses support for Qatar online faces imprisonment and hefty fines.

In a speech aimed at cleaning up Trump's remarks, Sec. of State Rex Tillerson called on the Saudi-led coalition to ease its blockade.

The phone call comes as President Trump criticized Qatar on Friday for funding terrorism "at a very high level" and demanded that it stop. They had already earlier in the week blocked direct flights between their countries and Qatar.

In a separate statement issued on Friday, the United Arab Emirates also praised Trump's "leadership in challenging Qatar's troubling support for extremism".

Qatar hiring Ashcroft, who was attorney general during the September 11 attacks and then helped push through the Patriot Act, appeared aimed at appeasing Washington as several Gulf nations try to isolate it. Officials in Qatar, home to a major USA military base, and Ashcroft's firm did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Saturday, Niger announced it had recalled its ambassador to Qatar in solidarity with Arab countries.

  • Leroy Wright