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Qatar foreign minister calls for dialogue as diplomatic storm strengthens around Doha

Doha: Qatar's foreign minister on Tuesday called for dialogue and insisted ties to the United States would remain strong despite a diplomatic storm that has seen Saudi Arabia and others cut ties with Doha.

In a speech broadcast on the Doha-based satellite channel Al-Jazeera in the early hours, foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani also called for "a dialogue of openness and honesty" to resolve the crisis.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Yemen and the Maldives severed ties with Qatar on Monday over accusations it supported extremism.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Qatar has denied the allegations, in the biggest diplomatic crisis to have hit the region in years.

Abdul Rahman insisted there would be "no escalation" on the part of Doha, a longtime ally of the United States which has been viewed with lingering suspicion by Washington over its leniency with groups like Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

The minister said Qatar's ties to the United States were complicated, but would remain unharmed.

"Our relationship with the United States is strategic," said Abdul Rahman. "There are things we do not agree on, but our areas of cooperation outnumber those of contention." He did not elaborate.

Qatar hosts the largest United States airbase in the region, which is crucial in the fight against Islamic State group jihadists, and is set to host the 2022 football World Cup.

The dispute comes less than a month after United States president Donald Trump visited Saudi Arabia and called for a united Muslim front against extremism.

It also follows weeks of rising tensions between Doha and its neighbours, including Qatari accusations of a concerted media campaign against the kingdom and the alleged hacking of its official news agency.

Kuwait, like Saudi and Qatar a powerful member of the Gulf Cooperation Council, has remained noticeably silent on the crisis.

Abdul Rahman said Kuwaiti ruler Sheikh Sabah had specifically requested Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to postpone a planned speech on Tuesday in a bid to contain the crisis.

Updated Date: Jun 06, 2017 07:11 AM

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