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Qatar case: Trump incites Arab Unity in call to Saudi King Salman

By REUTERS:

US President Donald Trump has called the king of Saudi Arabia to earnestly advise Gulf unity amid an escalating dispute over Qatar’s alleged support for militants.

Earlier, he said the Saudis’ move to cut off  Qatar could mark the “beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism”.

Several Gulf countries cut travel and embassy links with Qatar on Monday.

Qatar strongly denies supporting radical Islamism. The rift has affected oil prices, travel and shipping, and has raised fears of food shortages.

The emir of Kuwait is speculating on the dispute and the president of Turkey has also offered to help, saying isolation and sanctions will not resolve the crisis.

“His  message was that we need unity in the region to fight extremist ideology and terrorist financing,” a US official told Reuters news agency.

Mr Trump had earlier claimed credit for the pressure placed on Qatar, saying his recent visit to Saudi Arabia was “already paying off”.

In a series of tweets on Tuesday morning, Mr Trump accused Qatar of funding terrorism, saying: “During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar – look!”

In his phone call to King Salman, he was quoted by Reuters as saying: “It’s important that the Gulf be united for peace and security in the region,”

Separately, the Pentagon thanked Qatar for hosting the largest US air force base in the Middle East.

What do the Saudis want?

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister called on Qatar to cut ties with Palestinian group Hamas in the occupied territories,

and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, if it wanted to end its isolation in the Gulf region.

Adel Al-Jubeir said: “Nobody wants to hurt Qatar. It has to choose whether it must move in one direction or another direction.”

Speaking in Paris, he said the economic measures should put pressure on Qatar to act “like a normal country”.

He name-checked “support of extremist groups”, “hostile media” and “interference in affairs of other countries” as things Qatar would have to change if it wished to restore ties.

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Hamza Jaffery

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