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Kuwait steps up efforts to end Qatar blockade
Kuwait’s emir, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, left, and Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, in Doha on Wednesday. Photograph: AP
Kuwait has stepped up its efforts to mediate an end to the economic and diplomatic blockade of Qatar as other Gulf States set out more detailed demands for how Qatar should end its alleged funding and harbouring of terrorism.
Kuwait’s Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah flew to Qatar on Wednesday night and was met at the airport by Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. The Qatari foreign ministry said they held talks on how to “restore the normal relations” of the Gulf.
The US president, Donald Trump, also rang the Qatari emir suggesting he come to the US to discuss a resolution to the worst diplomatic crisis to hit the Gulf in 30 years.
In his second intervention in the row in as many days, Trump urged action against terrorism, a White House statement said. “The president offered to help the parties resolve their differences, including through a meeting at the White House if necessary,” it said.
Trump, in a later call with Abu Dhabi’s crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan, called for unity among Gulf Arabs “but never at the expense of eliminating funding for radical extremism or defeating terrorism”, the White House said.
Speaking on BBC radio, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) ambassador to Moscow, Omar Saif Ghobash, said the blockade would only be lifted when Qatar ended the harbouring of terrorists, including the Muslim Brotherhood and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas. He demanded that the Qatar-funded broadcaster al-Jazeera “change completely so it no longer acts as a mouthpiece for terrorists”.
Qatar insists it does not fund extremism and says the presence of leading figures from Hamas or the Muslim Brotherhood in the capital, Doha, is in part an effort to achieve peace in the Middle East.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Qatar’s foreign minister said its fellow Arab states’ move to isolate it was endangering stability in the region. “We are not ready to surrender, and will never be ready to surrender, the independence of our foreign policy,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said. “We have been isolated because we are successful and progressive. We are a platform for peace not terrorism ... This dispute is threatening the stability of the entire region.”
The statements came as Qatar’s flagship broadcaster, the pan-Arab satellite network Al-Jazeera, announced on Twitter that it was combatting a large-scale cyber attack across “all systems”.
“There were attempts made on the cyber security of Al-Jazeera but we are combatting them and currently all our entities are operational,” said a senior employee who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.
Qatar is a critical player in the Middle East as the largest exporter of liquid gas, the host to the largest US military base in the region and the venue for the 2022 Fifa World Cup.