Qatar dismisses Gulf demands but says ready to discuss ‘legitimate issues’

Qatar’s FM Sheikh Mohammed speaks to reporters in Doha.

:: Qatar is ready to discuss “legitimate issues” with Arab states to end a regional crisis, but it said a list presented by them last week contained some demands that were impossible to be met because they were not true.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE have all accused Qatar of supporting terrorism and have sent Doha a list of 13 demands and gave Doha 10 days to comply.

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said on Thursday that the demands were not reasonable.

“We cannot ‘sever links with so-called ISIS, al-Qaeda and Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah’ because no such links exist,” he said in a statement. “And we cannot ‘expel any members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard’ because there are none in Qatar.”

Sheikh Mohammed said that since it was impossible for Doha to stop doing things it had never been doing, “we are left to conclude that the purpose of the ultimatum was not to address the issues listed, but to pressure Qatar to surrender its sovereignty. This is something we will not do”.

UAE Ambassador to Russia Omar Saif Ghobash recently told CNN in interview that the four boycott countries are mulling the next step to take as the June 3 deadline these four countries have given to Qatar to meet their demands is expiring.

Ghobash said the stance of these countries toward Qatar is not different than that of the international community, describing their position as not unilateral.

Qatar defense minister to visit Turkey

In a related story, the defense minister of Qatar is to visit its ally Turkey on Friday, state media reported, as Ankara resists pressure to shutter a military base in the emirate’s unresolved row with Gulf neighbors.

Hamad bin Ali al-Attiyah will meet with Turkish Defence Minister Fikri Isik at the defense ministry in Ankara, the state-run news agency Anadolu said on Thursday.

Crucially, Ankara is also setting up a military base on the emirate that is set to give Turkey a new foothold in the Gulf. A bill was fast-tracked through the Turkish parliament this month as the crisis broke out giving Ankara a mandate to send up to several thousand troops to the base.

An initial contingent of 23 soldiers and five armored vehicles arrived in Qatar on June 22.

Among the 13 demands issued to Qatar include the shutdown of the Turkish military base. Refusal would mean facing further sanctions.

Erdogan hit back at the Saudi-led demands, calling the sweeping demands “against international law” and saying that asking for the withdrawal of Turkish troops from Qatar was a “disrespect to Turkey.”

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