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Egypt says end to Qatar crisis depends on Doha meeting demands

Ahram Online , Thursday 13 Jul 2017
jaddah Meeting
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, left, participates in a ministerial meeting with the foreign ministers of Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, July 12, 2017. Tillerson has held talks with the king of Saudi Arabia and other officials from the countries lined up against Qatar, but there has been no sign of a breakthrough so far in an increasingly entrenched dispute that has divided some of America's most important Mideast allies. (AP)

Egypt has reiterated its concerns over Qatar's "backing of terrorism," saying that resolving the row with Doha is dependent on the state's "positive response" to demands issued by the four Arab countries boycotting it.

The remarks by Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry came during a meeting between US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his counterparts from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah, in a bid to end the month-long rift with Qatar, the worst dispute among Gulf Arab states in decades.

No advance in the efforts was immediately announced.

During the talks, Shoukry "reiterated concerns about Qatar's backing of terrorism, asserting that Egypt maintains the demands presented by the four countries to Qatar," a foreign ministry statement said on Wednesday.

Three weeks ago the four states issued a list of 13 demands of Qatar; they include downgrading ties with Iran, shutting down broadcaster Al Jazeera, closing a military base in the country, and handing over alleged terrorists residing within its territory. 

The demands were issued with a two-week deadline, which was not met; the boycotting states subsequently condemned Qatar's response as "not serious” and "negative," saying Doha's refusal to meet the demands proves its links to terror groups.

"Reaching a settlement to the crisis is dependent on a positive response from Qatar to these demands, and on the country ending its support for terrorism and terrorist groups," Shoukry was quoted in the statement as saying during Wednesday's meeting.

Tillerson left Jeddah without comment, offering no sign of a breakthrough. The State Department has said the top diplomat will travel to Doha on Thursday to meet with senior Qatari officials.

On Tuesday, Tillerson had also visited Qatar, where he signed a memorandum of understanding with Doha on combating the financing of terrorism.

The four boycotting countries issued a statement shortly after the memorandum was signed, dismissing the step as "inadequate" and saying that any commitments made by Qatari authorities "cannot be trusted" without introducing strict controls.

The United States has offered confusing signals about its position on the Gulf crisis.

While President Donald Trump welcomed the Arab countries' decision to sever ties and transport links with the tiny oil-rich state, Tillerson is sponsoring a bid to resolve the diplomatic crisis. 

Qatar is home to the US's largest miilitary base in the region. 

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