U.S. defends Qatar’s position in Gulf row

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U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson
U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson: calls for compromise on Qatar following Gulf sanctions

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday said that Qatar had “reasonable” views in the month-old diplomatic row with Arab neighbours.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE and Egypt imposed sanctions on June 5 and accused Qatar of financing extremist groups and allying with Iran, the Gulf Arab states’ arch-foe, something it denies.

“I am hopeful we can make some progress to begin to bring this to a point of resolution.

“I think Qatar has been quite clear in its positions, and I think those have been very reasonable,” Tillerson, alongside his Qatari counterpart Mohammed Abdulrahman told reporters.

The U.S. worries is that the crisis could impact its military and counter-terrorism operations and increases the regional influence of Iran, which has been supporting Qatar by allowing it to use air and sea links through its territory.

Qatar denied supporting militant organisations adding that the boycott was part of a campaign to rein in its independent foreign policy.

Tillerson and British National Security Advisor Mark Sedwill had met on Monday with officials from Kuwait, which is acting as a mediator, in order to patch up the row among the Western-allied countries.

The State Department said Tillerson was also expected to travel to Saudi Arabia.

Following those discussions, the U.S., Britain and Kuwait urged all parties to resolve their dispute quickly through dialogue.

Coming from some of the most influential powers in the dispute, the plea for a negotiated solution may be aimed at an earlier refusal by Qatar’s adversaries to discuss renewing ties with Doha until it first acquiesced to a list of demands.

This includes closing the Al Jazeera TV channel, shutting a Turkish military base in Qatar and downgrading ties with Iran.

NAN reports that Qatar indicated it would not comply with the demands, saying they were so extreme they seemed deliberately designed to be rejected.

U.S. President Donald Trump has expressed support for Saudi Arabia in the dispute.


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