Qatar crisis: Germany seeks to bridge rift with Arab states

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and several other countries cut their ties with Doha on Monday in part because of comments posted briefly on the Qatar News Agency's website on May 23.

US President Donald Trump accused Qatar of funding terrorism at a "high level", just hours after his secretary of state urged Saudi Arabia and its allies to end a blockade of the gas-rich state because it was creating economic hardship and hitting counter-terrorism efforts. But Tillerson hinted at a wrinkle in the storyline: the breakdown in diplomatic relations is impairing US mediation in the Middle East because Qatar hosts a USA air base with 10,000 troops.

Mr Trump later spoke to Saudi King Salman by phone, said a senior White House official.

"We are of the view that all parties should resolve their differences through a process of constructive dialogue and peaceful negotiations based on well-established global principles of mutual respect, sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries", it said.

However, he had earlier claimed credit for the pressure placed on Qatar saying his recent visit to Saudi Arabia was "already paying off".

Qatar is home to both Al Jazeera and the region's largest U.S. military airbase - which is now the strategic nerve center of the USA air campaign against ISIS.

In the interview, Al Thani confirmed the Federal Bureau of Investigation is helping Qatar investigate a hack of its state-run news agency last month that may have been a catalyst for the crisis. Though the president said others, too, were guilty of supporting terrorism, he said he would not name them.

The UAE on Wednesday announced a similar decision, warning that offenders could face between three and 15 years in prison and a fine of 500,000 dirhams ($136,125, 120,715 euros) should they criticise the decision to boycott Qatar. He then convened a special session of Parliament on Wednesday night to authorize the dispatch of up to 3,000 troops to Qatar and hold military exercises with the country.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Qatar must do more, "more quickly" to combat extremism. He said normal life in Qatar is "not affected" by the blockage, insisting the tiny country maintains sufficient access to other air and sea routes to secure food for its people.

Gargash said the four Arab states seek a "political commitment to change course" by Qatar, including ending its support for the Brotherhood and Hamas.

Trump also says that unity among Gulf Cooperation Council countries and strong partnerships with the United States are crucial for defeating terrorism.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain released a joint statement listing 59 entities and individuals, including members of Qatar's royal family, as involved in "terrorist" activities.

  • Zachary Reyes


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