Qatar Seeks Trump's Help, and Tillerson Delivers


Trump does not oppose easing the blockade - although he did not mention it - but "he does believe that (Qatar) deserves it", the official said.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks in the Treaty Room of the U.S. Department of State on Friday, urging Saudi Arabia and its regional allies to ease their blockade of Qatar. But tensions have been brewing for many years between Qatar and other countries on the Arabian Peninsula and these tensions have apparently come to a head in the wake of Donald Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia.

During his trip to Saudi Arabia last month, Trump said, several Arab nations spoke to him about confronting Qatar over its behavior.

A statement published on the Bahrain News Agency said Trump's "stance is part of the relentless USA efforts to continue combating all forms of terrorism and ensuring worldwide solidarity on this unsafe phenomenon".

Both Britain and the United States were helping with their inquiry, they said. On Monday, regional giant Saudi Arabia abruptly made a decision to sever all diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar over its relations with another regional giant, Iran, and its alleged funding of extremist groups.

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China has traditionally played little role in Middle East conflicts or diplomacy, despite its reliance on the region for oil. Still, the Pentagon has been developing contingency plans in case there's any interruption, defense officials said.

In a day of mixed messages and chaotic diplomacy, Tillerson emphasized the economic, humanitarian and military damage he said the blockade was inflicting.

On Friday, Tillerson said the blockade is "hindering" military operations in the region.

Qatar hosts the Al-Udeid military base, the largest USA airbase in the Middle East that is central to the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

The Pentagon reiterated earlier Friday that the base has not been affected.

An initial report from Qatar's Interior Ministry late Wednesday said the website of the Qatar News Agency was first hacked in April with "high techniques and innovative methods".

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That base, the AL Udeid Air Base is the main regional center for U.S. air missions in the ongoing fight against Daesh. The Qatari Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A group of Gulf nations led by Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties as well as land, sea and air travel with Qatar on 5 June, accusing the country of supporting Sunni extremist groups and Iranian-backed Shiite militants to destabilize the region.

"Qatar has a history of supporting groups that span the spectrum of political expression, from activism to violence", Tillerson said. "Until now I have not seen Qatar give support to terror". Urging all sides to avoid further escalation of the conflict, Tillerson said the elements were available to resolve it. Their authorities have assured the government continued support for welfare and well-being of the resident Indian communities, it added.

In a preliminary report, the investigators did not say who they held responsible for the hack but said that both the United Kingdom and USA were helping with their inquiry, New Arab reported.

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