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Saudi Arabia and allies reject Qatar's response to their demands as not serious
July 6, 2017, 11:44 am
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Saudi Arabia and its allies pressed ahead in the Gulf diplomatic crisis on Wednesday by dismissing Qatar’s response to their demands as “not serious” and suggesting they may take more steps to isolate the emirate.

In a joint press conference in Cairo, the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt said they would continue the blockade on Qatar that began last month but stopped short of announcing new sanctions.

"The political and economic boycott will continue until Qatar changes its policies for the better,” said Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister.

Their statement dashed any lingering hopes that the Gulf crisis might be heading towards a quick negotiated end as both sides appeared to be digging in for a protracted conflict.

The foreign ministers said they would meet again in Bahrain to discuss their next move.

Qatar’s own foreign minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, said earlier in the day that the joint blockade was “a clear aggression and an insult” and vowed that his country would not give in to its opponents’ demands. The feud in the Gulf erupted on June 5 when the four states cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and launched an economic boycott, accusing it of supporting terrorism and using the al-Jazeera television network to foment unrest throughout the Middle East.

Qatar has rejected the allegations and said the blockade was really an effort by Saudi Arabia to subjugate its much smaller neighbour. Saudi Arabia and its allies gave Qatar a list of 13 demands - including shutting down al-Jazeera and cutting support for the Muslim Brotherhood - and said on Wednesday that Qatar’s response had failed to satisfy them.

"The response the four states got was overall negative and lacked any content. We find it did not provide a basis for Qatar to retreat from its policies," said Sameh Shoukry, the Egyptian foreign minister.

The quartet of Arab nations did not announce any new sanctions - like kicking Qatar out of the Gulf Cooperation Council - but Saudi Arabia said it would "take steps at the appropriate time". 

In response to the talks, Dr. Anwar Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, on Wednesday tweeted that Qatar would face: "greater isolation, incremental measures and reputational damage stemming from Doha's continued support for extremism and terrorism."

European governments and the US State Department have indicated they are eager to see a resolution to the dispute and the four countries may have have shied away from taking new measures as a result. 

Qatar’s economy has so far weathered the economic blockade but the credit ratings agency Moody's announced Wednesday it was downgrading the emirate’s outlook from stable to negative because of the crisis. 

Source: The Telegraph

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