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Egypt calls for UN inquiry into accusation of Qatar ransom payment

Reuters , Thursday 8 Jun 2017
Shoukry
A file photo of Egypt's FM Sameh Shoukry at the U.N Security Council (Photo: Reuters)
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Egypt on Thursday called for the United Nations Security Council to launch an investigation into accusations that Qatar paid a ransom of up to $1 billion to "to a terrorist group active in Iraq" to release kidnapped members of its royal family.

Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and several other countries severed diplomatic and transport ties with Doha on Monday, accusing it of supporting Islamist militants and their arch-foe Iran, charges Qatar says are baseless.

Qatar has denied trying to pay ransom money to secure the release of 26 Qataris, including members of the country's ruling royal family, abducted in Iraq by unidentified gunmen. The Qataris were released in April, some 18 months after they were abducted during a hunting trip in southern Iraq.

"It is everywhere in the news that Qatar paid up to $1 billion to a terrorist group active in Iraq in order to release members of its royal family," senior Egyptian U.N. diplomat Ihab Moustafa Awad Moustafa told the Security Council.

"This violation of the Security Council resolutions, if proved correct, shall definitely have a negative bearing on counter-terrorism efforts on the ground," he said. "We propose that the council launch a comprehensive investigation into this incident and other similar incidents."

Qatar's mission to the United Nations was not immediately available for comment on Egypt's call for an inquiry.

U.N. Security Council resolutions call on states "to prevent terrorists from benefiting directly or indirectly from ransom payments or from political concessions and to secure the safe release of hostages."

"We also want to know how the Security Council can address such violations, these flagrant violations of its resolutions," Moustafa said.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is ready to support any diplomatic efforts to resolve tensions between Qatar and other Gulf Arab states "if desired by all parties," his spokesman said on Thursday.

"The Secretary-General is following the situation in the Middle East with deep concern," U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. "He urges countries in the region to avoid escalating tensions and work instead to overcome their differences."

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