Putin calls for greater diplomatic effort as deadline about to expire
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Qatar faces possible further sanctions by Arab states that have severed ties with Doha over allegations of links to terrorism, as a deadline to accept a series of demands is expected to expire on Sunday night with no signs of the crisis ending.
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said the demands were “made to be rejected”, adding that the ultimatum was aimed not at tackling terrorism but at curtailing his country’s sovereignty.
But he told reporters in Rome that Doha remained ready to sit down and discuss the grievances raised by its neighbors.
“This list of demands is made to be rejected. It’s not meant to be accepted or ... to be negotiated,” Sheikh Mohammed said. “The State of Qatar instead of rejecting it as a principle, we are willing to engage in (dialogue), providing the proper conditions for further dialogue.”
He added that no one had the right to issue an ultimatum to a sovereign country.
The feud erupted last month when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic and travel ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism and being an ally of regional foe Iran, charges which Doha denies.
The countries have threat- ened further sanctions against Qatar if it does not comply with their list of 13 demands which were presented to Doha by Kuwaiti mediators 10 days ago.
The demands include closing a Turkish military base in Qatar and shutting down the al-Jazeera pan-Arab television network, which Doha also rejected.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday called on all sides to strengthen political and diplomatic efforts, as he held a telephone conversation with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
“The two leaders discussed the crisis in relations between Qatar and a number of other states. Vladimir Putin stressed the importance of political and diplomatic efforts aimed at overcoming the disagreements and normalizing the current complicated situation,” the Kremlin said in a statement.
Earlier on Saturday, Putin had a telephone conversation with King of Bahrain Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, during which the two leaders also touched upon the Qatar issue, noting that it brought a negative effect to the already complicated situation in the Middle East.
The Kremlin said both leaders stressed the need for a “direct dialogue based on mutual respect”.