Published: Sun, June 11, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Turkey demands an end to Qatar blockade as humanitarian crisis deepens

Saudi Arabia and the UAE on Saturday welcomed US President Donald Trump's warning to Qatar to stop funding terrorism.

Qatar's foreign minister fired back that there was "no clarity" in such accusations, speaking in an interview with RT Arabic in Moscow after emerging from talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

"We can not be happy in a situation when the relations between our partners are worsening".

The Turkish intervention is in marked contrast to the role of the USA president Donald Trump who on Friday threw his weight explicitly behind the actions of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, accusing Qatar of being "historically ... a funder of terrorism at a very high level" - a claim denied by the small Gulf state.

Last Friday, Mr Tillerson called for a "calm and thoughtful dialogue" to resolve the deepening dispute among Sunni Muslim states in the Gulf.

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Sheikh Khaled, in comments translated from Arabic to Turkish, said he had told Erdogan about the actions of Qatar which led to the dispute, and added that there should be a guarantee that Qatar will not continue its current actions.

Insisting that isolating Qatar would not resolve any regional problems, Erdoğan vowed that he would do everything in his power to help end the regional crisis.

Saudi Arabia said an immediate change of policy by Qatar was essential. But the crisis appeared to escalate on Friday as Saudi Arabia released a joint statement listing 59 Qatari entities and individuals, including members of the royal family, as involved in "terrorist" activities.

Turkey "will continue to give all kinds of support to Qatar", the Turkish president stressed.

"The nation of Qatar has unfortunately been funding terrorism, and at a very high level", President Trump said during an appearance alongside Romanian President Klaus Iohannis at the White House.

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A separate SPA report on Saturday acknowledged Tillerson's call for Qatar to curtail support for terrorism, but did not mention his remarks that the crisis was hurting ordinary Qataris, impairing business dealings and harming the USA fight against the Islamic State militant group.

Trump claimed credit for and endorsing the decision of Gulf nations to ostracize their neighbour, even as US Cabinet officials said their blockade was hurting the campaign against ISIS, CNN reported. Qatar's detractors seized on his remarks as vindication of their stance.

In a sharp contrast to Trump's tone and messaging, Tillerson called on Gulf nations to de-escalate the crisis with Qatar.

A statement published on the Bahrain News Agency said Trump's "stance is part of the relentless United States efforts to continue combating all forms of terrorism and ensuring global solidarity on this risky phenomenon".

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