10:13 22 May

US' Tillerson urges Saudi allies to ease Qatar blockade

The U.S.' top diplomat on Friday urged Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies to ease a blockade on Qatar while calling on Doha to do more to end its alleged support of terror groups, APA reports quoting Anadolu Agency.


Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters at the State Department that in addition to "creating a hardship on the people of Qatar" the ongoing blockade by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt is "hindering" the U.S.-led effort to combat Daesh.


However, top U.S. officials, including Tillerson, had earlier said they did not anticipate the Saudi-led effort would impact anti-Daesh operations.


Qatar is home to the al-Udeid military base, the largest U.S. military base in the Middle East, which houses U.S. Central Command. Roughly 11,000 troops are stationed there.


Tillerson further called on Doha to "do more" and "more quickly" to withdraw support for extremist groups, but asked that no further escalation between Qatar and the other countries take place.


Breaking with his secretary of state's rhetoric, Trump called Qatar a "funder of terrorism at a very high level".


"For Qatar, we want you back among the unity of responsible nations," Trump said at the White House. "We ask Qatar and other nations in the region to do more and do it faster."


On Monday, five Arab countries -- Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Yemen -- abruptly cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism -- a charge Doha denies.


Mauritania followed suit the following day, while Jordan downgraded its diplomatic relations with Doha.


Saudi Arabia has also closed its land borders with Qatar, geographically isolating the tiny Gulf state.


Tillerson said the U.S. will support Kuwait-led efforts to mediate an end to the diplomatic row.


During a phone call with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, President Trump stressed the "importance of maintaining unity among Arab countries", according to the White House.

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/ 22 May, 2018