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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

Arab states reinforce stance on Qatar boycott

Quartet say there will be ‘no compromises’ in their demand for Doha to change its policies

Bahraini foreign minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, left, walks in to a press conference as Saudi foreign minister Adel bin Ahmed Al Jubeir, Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukri and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed after their talks on their dispute with Qatar, in Manama. Hamad I Mohammed / Reuters
Bahraini foreign minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, left, walks in to a press conference as Saudi foreign minister Adel bin Ahmed Al Jubeir, Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukri and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed after their talks on their dispute with Qatar, in Manama. Hamad I Mohammed / Reuters

The foreign ministers of four Arab states boycotting Qatar said Sunday they would make no compromises in their demand that Doha change its policies, as they met in Bahrain on Sunday.

As the political crisis that has split the Gulf approaches its third month, the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates said they were open to talks with Qatar on condition it "stops its support and financing of terrorism".

The quartet, who met on Sunday in the Bahraini capital, said in a new statement: "We reiterate the importance of Qatar's compliance with the 13 demands outlined by the four states.”

Regional kingpin Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt broke ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing the emirate of fostering Islamist extremist groups and of ties to Saudi arch-rival Iran. Qatar has denied the allegations.

The Saudi-led bloc in June issued the list of demands for the lifting of sanctions, including the termination of regional news giant Al-Jazeera, the downgrading of ties to Iran and the closure of a Turkish military base in the country.

The four Arab states have recalled their ambassadors from Doha, ordered all Qataris to return home and banned Qatar from using their airspace.

Qatar accuses the bloc of imposing a "blockade" on the tiny emirate and has rejected the demands as a violation of its sovereignty.

Qatar has also accused Saudi Arabia of restricting Qatari pilgrimage to Mecca, the site of the annual Muslim Hajj pilgrimage that falls next month.

Saudi Arabia and its allies on Sunday accused Qatar of complicating Hajj for its citizens, who cannot take direct flights from Doha to Saudi Arabia under the sanctions.

Kuwait is leading mediation efforts in the crisis, the worst to grip the region since the 1981 creation of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Qatar.

The two other GCC members, Kuwait and Oman, have not joined the Qatar boycott.

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