Middle East

Qatar crisis: Saudi-led allies stand firm

The foreign ministers of the Saudi-led bloc met in Bahrain's capital Manama on Sunday Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The foreign ministers of the four nations met in Bahrain's capital Manama on Sunday

The four Arab countries boycotting Qatar have issued a strong statement saying the emirate must respond to the 13 demands it has made.

The bloc suggested it would then be "ready for dialogue".

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) cut ties with their Gulf neighbour on 5 June, saying it supports terrorism.

Qatar strongly denies the allegation and has rejected a list of conditions for the lifting of sanctions.

They include the closure of news broadcaster Al Jazeera and reducing ties with Iran.

The group accuses the Qatari-funded channel of fostering extremism, a charge the network denies.

The foreign ministers of the Saudi-led bloc met in Bahrain's capital Manama on Sunday to discuss the blockade.

"The four countries are ready for dialogue with Qatar with the condition that it announces its sincere willingness to stop funding terrorism and extremism and its commitment to not interfere in other countries' foreign affairs and respond to the 13 demands," Bahrain's Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa told a news conference after the meeting.

Saudi Arabia has closed its land border with Qatar, while all four countries have cut air and sea links with Doha.

Qatar's lawyers have called the tactics "reminiscent of the extreme and punitive conduct of 'bully' states that have historically resulted in war".

Diplomatic efforts led by Kuwait and backed by Western powers have so far failed to end the dispute.

Earlier in July it appeared the 13-point list might be abandoned, when diplomats told reporters at the UN they now wanted Qatar to accept six broad principles.

These included commitments to combat terrorism and extremism, and to end acts of provocation and incitement.

But on Sunday, it was clear the list was still on the table.

The bloc also accused Qatar of complicating the hajj - the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca - for its citizens.

Mecca is in Saudi Arabia, but Qataris cannot fly there directly from Doha under the sanctions.

Last week, the four nations added 18 more groups and individuals they say are linked to Qatar to their "terrorist" lists.

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