Qatar denounces move by Gulf states to cut air, sea links

Qatar denounces move by Gulf states to cut air, sea links”

In a phone call Wednesday with Qatar's ruling emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Trump said he wanted to help Qatar and its Arab neighbors resolve the row that has upended any sense of Gulf unity, suggesting a possible White House summit among leaders.

President Donald Trump changed course on Qatar Wednesday, a day after praising a move by other Gulf nations to sever diplomatic relations with Doha, which hosts a USA military base crucial to the fight against ISIS. Tillerson sat a few feet away from Trump in the Rose Garden as the president put the blame squarely on Qatar.

Launching an extraordinary allegation against a key US military partner, Trump derided what he called Qatar's "extremist ideology in terms of funding" terrorist groups, an accusation Qatar has repeatedly and vehemently denied.

Notwithstanding Qatar's denials, Western diplomats accuse Qatar's government of allowing or even encouraging the funding of some Sunni extremists, such as al-Qaida's branch in Syria.

The call with Qatar's emir showed Trump trying to personally involve himself in resolving the conflict. "They have to end that funding".

Trump offered to help resolve the diplomatic crisis, including through a White House meeting, the statement said.

"Qatar is accused of having a hidden relationship with Iran, but its relations with Iran are clear, transparent and time-tested", said Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, noting that the UAE does more trade with Iran than Qatar does.

The move came after Erdogan expressed disapproval of the sanctions imposed on Qatar by several Arab countries earlier this week. The central bank did not respond to a request for comment.

On Wednesday, Turkey's parliament ratified two deals on deploying troops to Qatar and training the Gulf nation's gendarmerie.

A separate SPA report on Saturday acknowledged Tillerson's call for Qatar to curtail support for terrorism, without mentioning that he had also said the crisis was hurting ordinary Qataris, impairing business and harming the USA fight against the Islamic State militant group. Previously, the USA had insisted the Qatar crisis wouldn't affect US military efforts in the Middle East.

That was enough, it seemed, to persuade Qatar the US wasn't abandoning its strategic partner.

Qatar has dismissed as "baseless" a terrorism blacklist published by Saudi Arabia and its allies which linked individuals and organisations in Doha to support for Islamist militant groups. The statement added that Qatar does not support terrorist groups. He says the elements of a resolution are available. But Trump said that he, Tillerson and military leaders had decided during Trump's trip to Saudi Arabia last month that a public rebuke was needed.

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