Turkey, Saudi Arabia to try to reduce tensions over Qatar

AP , Thursday 22 Jun 2017

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has agreed with Saudi Arabia's King Salman and the new crown prince to "increase efforts" to end tensions in the region related to the dispute with Qatar, Turkish officials said Thursday.

Erdogan's spokesman meanwhile, said that Kuwait — which is mediating between Qatar and its Gulf neighbors — would present a list of demands by four Arab nations from Doha to end the crisis.

Ibrahim Kalin told a group of journalists that the list by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt would comprise "concrete requests and things Qatar must do" but did not provide details. It would be handed over to Doha in the coming days, he said. His comments were reported by the state-run Anadolu Agency.

The Turkish leader called the Saudi royals late on Wednesday to congratulate them on the appointment of prince Mohammed bin Salman as the new crown prince, according to a statement from officials in Erdogan's office.

King Salman and Erdogan also agreed to strengthen ties between Turkey and Saudi Arabia and to meet face-to-face during a G-20 summit in Germany next month, the statement said.

Erdogan has strongly backed Qatar in the crisis with Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations that cut off relations with Doha after accusing it of supporting terrorism.

Erdogan vowed not to leave the tiny nation isolated and Turkey's parliament passed legislation permitting the deployment of troops to a Turkish military base in Qatar in a show of support.

Turkey's military said a contingent of 23 soldiers reached Doha on Thursday as part of the agreement on the deployment of Turkish troops. Five armored vehicles were also dispatched, the military said. Turkish media reports said the Turkish troops would join some 90 soldiers already stationed in Doha.

Turkey is also sending food and medicines to Qatar to help end its isolation. The state-run Anadolu Agency said a vessel carrying some 4,000 tons of food left the port of Izmir, western Turkey, on Thursday.

King Salman appointed his 31-year-old son as crown prince on Wednesday, placing him first-in-line to the throne and giving him a firmer hold on the kingdom's foreign policies.

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