Tillerson, Cavusoglu Discuss Row Between Qatar, its Arab Neighbors

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke on the phone with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu about the dispute between Qatar and its Arab Gulf neighbors.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt severed relations last week with Qatar, accusing the small nation of supporting Islamist militants and Iran, allegations Qatar has said are baseless. U.S. President Donald Trump also had strong criticism toward Qatar.

The call late Saturday came at Tillerson’s request after he urged Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states Friday to “no further escalate” the crisis and ease their blockade of Qatar, which he said was causing unintended humanitarian consequences and affecting the U.S.-led fight against Islamic State.

No further details of the call were immediately available. In reference to Tillerson’s comments on the blockade, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday in Istanbul it “should be lifted completely.”

“Tonight, U.S. Secretary of State [Rex] Tillerson made a statement,” he said. “He had a statement about easing the process and reducing the sanctions [against Qatar]. I say let us lift it entirely. This should not be happening between brothers.”

Speaking at a Ramadan fast-breaking dinner, Erdogan vowed to continue supporting Qatar after his rapid approval of legislation on deploying Turkish troops there.

 


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