Trump Contradicts Tillerson Line On Blockade Of Qatar Within Hours

Commenting on US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's call for easing the blockade on Qatar, President Erdogan said "I say it should be lifted completely".

President Trump, speaking at the White House later in the day Friday, took a somewhat different tack.

The new stance suggests a desire by the administration to support Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations that cut diplomatic ties with Qatar earlier this week - essentially picking sides in a regional row in the heart of the Sunni Muslim world.

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But Trump, taking a much harder line than his chief diplomat, demanded that Qatar "stop teaching people to kill other people, stop filling their heads with hate", and stop funding terror groups.

The countries accuse Qatar, which hosts a large USA air base crucial for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, of funding terrorist groups throughout the region. "And in the wake of that conference, nations came together and spoke to me about confronting Qatar over its behaviour", Trump told reporters at the news conference. He said he hoped it would be the beginning of the end of funding terrorism.

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"We are monitoring the situation very closely, especially when it involves match officials travelling and because Qatar is the host to many of our teams who play in neutral venues", John said.

That base, the AL Udeid Air Base is the main regional center for U.S. air missions in the ongoing fight against Daesh.

But the Pentagon has been developing contingency plans in case there is any interruption, defence officials said.

As the AP puts it, "The sanctions list further tightens the screws on Qatar" and "shows the crisis only escalating despite Kuwaiti efforts to mediate an end to the rift".

The blockade is also impairing US and other worldwide business activities in the region and has created a hardship on the people of Qatar and the people whose livelihoods depend on commerce with Qatar.

It wasn't immediately clear how Trump's sharp condemnation might affect USA cooperation with Qatar, which hosts some 10,000 United States troops and a major U.S. air base that serves as a staging ground for operations in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The United Arab Emirates welcomed "President Trump's leadership in challenging Qatar's troubling support for extremism".

But he also encouraged Qatar, adding, "We want you back among the unity of responsible nations". He says Qatar has a history of supporting violent groups.

Tillerson told reporters at the State Department that the crisis, which has cut transportation links and trade, had begun hurting ordinary people in Qatar and that it was impairing business dealings and harming the us battle against the Islamic State militant group.

  • Leroy Wright