USA urges Arab nations to ease blockade of Qatar

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses foreign ambassadors at a Ramadan dinner in Ankara Turkey. Erdogan has voiced support for Qatar in its dispute with Saudi Arabia and other nations saying no one will benefit from the policy of isolating

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses foreign ambassadors at a Ramadan dinner in Ankara Turkey. Erdogan has voiced support for Qatar in its dispute with Saudi Arabia and other nations saying no one will benefit from the policy of isolating

He said he hoped it would be the beginning of the end of funding terrorism.

"Sorry, but we will continue to give all kinds of support to Qatar", he said.

Tillerson addressed criticism that the other Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia are also complicit when it comes to backing or fueling extremism.

"This list is connected to Qatar and serves suspect agendas, in an indication of two-faced Qatari policies, which announce that they are fighting terrorism on one hand, while funding, supporting and sheltering various terrorist groups on the other", the statement read. The comments from Qatar came a day after Sheikh Mohammed rejected any interference in its foreign policy and said his country would never "surrender". Several other countries followed suit.

American President Donald Trump on Friday called on Qatar to stop funding terrorism as his state department urged Arab states to ease their blockade on the country and calm tensions.

"Qatar can no longer have it both ways", said Yousef al-Otaiba, UAE's ambassador to the United States, in a statement following the president's remarks. "And its extremist ideology in terms of funding".

As Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tries to heal a deep rift among Arab partners, President Trump seems to be upping the ante.

Trump said he spoke with regional leaders in the wake of a recent meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and he had decided it was time to call on Qatar to end its support of terrorist groups.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson walks to speaks at a news conference about Qatar at the State Department in Washington, Friday June 9, 2017. Do we take the easy road or do we finally take hard but necessary action? "There are on-going cases and we have, the courts have, concluded and prosecuted certain individuals".

The diplomat did not provide evidence or details, but said the press had spoken of it.

The US has called on the Gulf states to "de-escalate" their row with Qatar, saying it has caused unintended "humanitarian" consequences.

Tillerson said the blockade had led to food shortages in tiny Qatar and forced families to uproot themselves and pull their children from school.

"The blockage is hindering US military action in the region, and the campaign against ISIS", Tillerson said, using an acronym for the extremist group.

The actions taken by Saudi Arabia and its allies amounted to "a clear breach of the worldwide law and won't result in a positive impact on the region but will have a negative one", he said, also hitting out at the terrorism blacklist. But Tillerson hinted at a wrinkle in the storyline: the breakdown in diplomatic relations is impairing USA mediation in the Middle East because Qatar hosts a US air base with 10,000 troops.

Erdogan also approved another accord between Turkey and Qatar on military training cooperation late on Thursday.

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