Thursday, June 22, 2017

Saudis, allies have list of demands for Qatar: US


Agence France-Presse

WASHINGTON - Saudi Arabia and its allies have drawn up a list of demands to be presented to Qatar, the United States said Wednesday, as President Donald Trump discussed the regional crisis with new Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The latest moves came as Washington stepped up its efforts to resolve the thorny row between Qatar -- home to the biggest US air base in the Middle East -- and its neighbors, led by Riyadh.
"We hope the list of demands will soon be presented to Qatar and will be reasonable and actionable," US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, in a statement.
Later, addressing reporters after a meeting with senior Chinese officials, Tillerson said Washington had been pushing for a clear list of grievances.
"Our role has been to encourage the parties to get their issues on the table, clearly articulated, so that those issues can be addressed and some resolution process can get underway to bring this to a conclusion," he said.
"Our desire is for unity within the Gulf and unity within the GCC and that we direct all of our efforts onto the war against terror," he said, referring to the Gulf Cooperation Council, a fractious regional alliance.
Two weeks ago, Riyadh and several of its allies including Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, cut ties with Qatar over accusations that Doha supports extremist groups, including some linked to Saudi foe Iran -- a claim Qatar denies.
In addition to diplomatic isolation, other measures taken included closing Qatar's only land border, banning its planes from using their airspace and barring Qatari nationals from transiting through their airports.
Trump's administration has sent contradictory signals on the crisis. While the US president has made statements siding with Saudi Arabia, Washington has shown mounting frustration over the kingdom's role in the crisis.
Tillerson's spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Tuesday that the US was "mystified" that Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies have failed to present details justifying their embargo on Qatar.
"The more that time goes by, the more doubt is raised about the actions taken by Saudi Arabia and the UAE," Nauert said.
On Wednesday, Trump discussed the Qatar row with Saudi Arabia's newly-appointed crown prince, on a call during which he also offered his congratulations to the new heir to the throne.
"The president and the crown prince committed to close cooperation to advance our shared goals of security, stability, and prosperity across the Middle East and beyond," the White House said in a statement.
"The two leaders discussed the priority of cutting off all support for terrorists and extremists, as well as how to resolve the ongoing dispute with Qatar," the statement added.
On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia's King Salman ousted his nephew as crown prince and installed Mohammed, his son, as heir to the throne.
Trump, 71, and Mohammed, 31, have met twice -- once in Riyadh during the US leader's recent trip to Saudi Arabia and once in mid-March at the White House.

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