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Rex Tillerson urges easing of blockade against Qatar

شعار Al Jazeera Al Jazeera 09/06/2017
US secretary of state says there must be "no further escalation" of the Gulf crisis [AP] © Provided by Al Jazeera US secretary of state says there must be "no further escalation" of the Gulf crisis [AP]

The US secretary of state has urged Saudi Arabia and other Arab Gulf states to ease their blockade on Qatar, saying it was causing unintended humanitarian consequences and affecting the US-led fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group.

Rex Tillerman's statement comes five days after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt cut diplomatic ties and transport links with Qatar, closing, air land and sea borders over and sending the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries into their largest crisis in years.

"We call on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt to eas the blockade on Qatar," Tillerson Tillerson said on Friday. 

He said blockade had caused "unintended" consequences, and was "hindering US military actions in the region and the campaign against ISIS", referring to ISIL. 

"Our expectation is that these countries will immediately take steps to de-escalate the situation and put forth a good faith effort to resolve their grievances they have with each other."

The three Arab Gulf countries and Egypt accuse Qatar of supporting armed groups and their regional rival, Iran. Qatar says the charges are baseless.

Tillerson said the blockade was "impairing US and other international business activities in the region", and had also caused inadvertent humanitarian consequences. 

READ MORE: Qatar rejects Saudi-led bloc's 'terror' list

"We’re seeing shortages of food [in Qatar], families are being forcibly separated, and children pulled out of school - we believe these are unintended consequences, especially during this holy month of Ramadan, but they can be addressed immediately."

The US top diplomat said the US supported efforts by the Emir of Kuwait to mediate the crisis, and said "the elements of a solution are available".

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