Tillerson urges Arab states to lift Qatar 'land blockade'
July 21 2017 04:58 PM
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with Oman's Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah inside the Treaty Room at the US State Department on Friday.


*Secretary of State says US is happy with Qatar's efforts to combat terror funding
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Friday said the US was satisfied with Qatar's efforts to implement an agreement aimed at combating terror financing, and urged Arab states to lift the land blockade on the Gulf nation.
"The Qataris have continued to move forward on the MoU (memorandum of understanding) that the US and Qatar entered into to address many of the terrorism, terror financing, counter-terrorism concerns. They have been very aggressive in implementing that agreement, so I think we're satisfied with the effort they're putting forth," he told reporters before meeting with Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah at the State Department.
Tillerson also noted that there has been "positive movement" in talks since he visited the region recently.
The July 12 agreement between Qatar and the US seeks to "track down and disable terror financing" and was signed during Tillerson's visit to Doha.
He shuttled between Gulf countries to convince them to help ease the worst regional dispute in years but left the region without any firm signs the feud would be resolved soon.
The countries made 13 demands of Qatar - including that it shut down a Turkish military base and the Al Jazeera pan-Arab television network - which Doha has rejected. Later, the Arab states asked Qatar to accept "six broad principles".
Tillerson said Qatar was willing to sit with the four countries to discuss their demands, but that it was important to Doha "that the sovereignty and dignity of all five countries be respected in those discussions".
In a move to counter the four states' accusations, Qatar has set rules for defining terrorism, freezing funding and terrorism financing and established national terrorism lists.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt cut diplomatic, transport and commercial ties with Qatar on June 5. Their sanctions included closing Qatar's only land border, refusing Qatar access to their airspace and ordering their citizens back from Qatar.
"I hope the four countries will consider as a sign of good faith lifting this land blockade, which is really having the most, I think, negative effects on the Qatari people," Tillerson said.
Several Western diplomats have visited the Gulf over the past two weeks in an effort to ease the dispute.
China's foreign minister has called on Doha and the four Arab countries to resolve their differences through talks within the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC), Chinese state media reported on Friday. 
Wang Yi made the remarks after meeting with his Qatari counterpart HE the Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani in Beijing on Thursday, a day after he held talks with a top official from the UAE.

Erdogan: Turkey will try to solve GCC crisis 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday said Turkey would do its best to solve problems between the "brothers of the Gulf region" as he prepared to visit Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait on July 23-24, according to Reuters.
Erdogan has criticised a list of demands by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt to end sanctions they imposed on Doha last month.
During a speech in Istanbul, Erdogan said the political problems were temporary and he called on Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other Gulf states to invest in Turkey.
The Turkish president will start the GCC tour on Sunday by visiting Saudi Arabia from where he will move to Kuwait, which plays the role of mediator in the crisis. He will visit Qatar on Monday.

Last updated: July 22 2017 12:43 AM

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