Arab FMs to Meet in Bahrain to Dis­cuss Qatar Boy­cott

THISDAY - - INTERNATIONAL -

Top of­fi­cials of four Arab states boy­cotting Qatar are sched­uled to meet in the Bahraini cap­i­tal Sun­day, as a po­lit­i­cal cri­sis that has split the Gulf en­ters its sec­ond month.

The for­eign min­is­ters of Saudi Ara­bia, the United Arab Emi­rates, Bahrain and Egypt will meet in Manama in a bid to per­suade Qatar to “end its sup­port for ex­trem­ism and ter­ror­ism, stop med­dling in the af­fairs of neigh­bour­ing coun­tries and change its poli­cies,” read a state­ment on state news agency BNA.

On June 5, the Saudi-led bloc cut diplo­matic and eco­nomic ties with Qatar -- the world’s largest ex­porter of liq­ue­fied nat­u­ral gas -over al­le­ga­tions the emi­rate sup­ported Is­lamist ex­trem­ism and had close ties to Shi­ite Iran, Saudi Ara­bia’s re­gional arch- ri­val.

The Saudi-led bloc re­called their am­bas­sadors, or­dered all Qataris to re­turn home and banned Qatar from us­ing their airspace.

Qatar has de­nied the al- lega­tions and ac­cuses the bloc of im­pos­ing a “block­ade” on the tiny emi­rate.

Qatar has also re­jected the bloc’s de­mands -- which in­clude down­grad­ing ties to Iran and clos­ing both the Al-Jazeera news chan­nel and a Turk­ish mil­i­tary base in the coun­try -- as a vi­o­la­tion of its sovereignty.

Bahrain’s King Ha­mad on Satur­day called for “the sol­i­dar­ity of all Arab coun­tries in fight­ing ter­ror­ism and cut­ting off its fi­nanc­ing... for the de­fence of our home­lands” ahead of the meet­ing, which comes after the Saudi- led bloc held talks in Cairo ear­lier this month.

Kuwait is lead­ing me­di­a­tion ef­forts in the cri­sis, the worst to grip the re­gion since the 1981 cre­ation of the six- na­tion Gulf Co­op­er­a­tion Coun­cil.

Kuwait and Oman -GCC mem­bers along with Saudi Ara­bia, the United Arab Emi­rates, Bahrain and Qatar -- have not joined the Qatar boy­cott.

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