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Saudi-led bloc extends Qatar’s deadline on demands for two days

LiveMint logoLiveMint 03-07-2017 Nadeem Hamid

Washington: A Saudi-led coalition that has blocked air, sea and land links with Qatar over accusations the country is supporting terrorism agreed to a two-day extension of its deadline for Qatar to meet its demands, the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported.

The decision was made at the request of the emir of Kuwait, which has been acting as a mediator, after he received a letter from Qatar’s foreign minister. The Saudi-led bloc will deliver a full response after a complete reading of the Qatari government’s answer, SPA reported.

Qatari foreign minister Mohammed Al Thani on Saturday said his country wouldn’t concede any demands that threaten its sovereignty or violate international law, and was prepared to let pass Monday’s deadline for complying with the bloc’s 13 demands. Those include shutting the Al Jazeera television network and cutting back ties with Iran.

“There is no fear from our direction. We are ready to face the consequences,” Al Thani said Saturday in Rome, where he met with his Italian counterpart. “There is an international law that should be respected and not violated.”

Foreign ministers of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and United Arab Emirates are expected to meet on 5 July in Cairo to discuss the latest developments on relations with Qatar, the Egyptian foreign ministry said in an emailed statement.

Qatari stocks declined Sunday as the rift showed no sign of easing. The QE Index, which resumed trading after a one-week public holiday, declined as much as 4% and pared its loss to 2.3% at the close.

Al Thani repeated on Saturday that Qatar is willing to sit down and negotiate under the right circumstances. The ultimatum issued 23 June was made to be rejected, he said.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt severed commercial links with Qatar almost a month ago, saying they were isolating the sheikdom over what they see as its tolerant attitude toward Iran and support for terrorist groups. The group’s demands include Qatar severing relations with the Muslim Brotherhood and ending Turkey’s military presence in the country. Qatar was given 10 days to respond.

Al Thani, in turn, accused the blockading nations of having ties to groups and individuals accused of terrorism.

“As for the countries that accuse Qatar of financing terrorism, they have the same problems as Qatar, more so, they are on top of the list in that area,” he said. “There are financial institutes in these countries involved in financing terrorist organization and financing terrorist operations in western countries.”

The coalition presented Qatar with its requirements to end the standoff after US secretary of state Rex Tillerson urged the Saudi-led bloc to lay out its demands. In a statement on 25 June, Tillerson conceded that Qatar would find it “very difficult” to comply with some of the requests.

On 27 June, during a visit in Washington, Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir called the demands non-negotiable. Bloomberg

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