U.S. inks anti-ter­ror deal with Qatar

Tiller­son heads next to Saudi Ara­bia, which has closed land bor­der to be­sieged Gulf na­tion

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Adam Schreck and Mag­gie Hyde

DOHA, QATAR » U.S. Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son sealed a deal Tues­day to in­ten­sify Qatar’s coun­tert­er­ror­ism ef­forts, tack­ling a cen­tral is­sue in the spat pit­ting the be­sieged Gulf na­tion against four other Amer­i­can al­lies lined up against it.

Tiller­son out­lined the agree­ment at the end of his first visit to Qatar since its neigh­bors moved to iso­late it over griev­ances, in­clud­ing what they al­lege is its sup­port for ex­trem­ist groups.

It was his sec­ond stop on a shut­tle-diplo­macy cir­cuit that will take him next to Saudi Ara­bia, which has shut Qatar’s only land bor­der and is the most pow­er­ful of the coun­tries op­pos­ing it.

The cen­ter­piece of the visit was the sign­ing of a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing that lays out steps Qatar can take to bol­ster its fight against ter­ror­ism and ad­dress short­falls in polic­ing ter­ror­ism fund­ing.

Tiller­son said the deal, the de­tails of which were not made pub­lic, has been in the works for a while and in­cluded some steps that have been taken al­ready.

“To­gether, the United States and Qatar will do more to track down fund­ing sources, will do more to col­lab­o­rate and share in­for­ma­tion, and will do more to keep the re­gion and our home­land safe,” he said fol­low­ing talks with 37-year-old Emir Tamim bin Ha­mad Al Thani.

Tiller­son also gave be­sieged Qatar some po­lit­i­cal back­ing be­fore his talks in Saudi Ara­bia on Wed­nes­day. “I think Qatar has been quite clear in its po­si­tions and, I think, very rea­son­able,” he said.

Although largely sym­bolic, the deal al­lows Tiller­son to show some progress in his first ma­jor at­tempt at global me­di­a­tion as sec­re­tary of state and bol­sters Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s claim to be ramp­ing up the fight against ter­ror fi­nanc­ing.

Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, the Kuwaiti emir who is me­di­at­ing the dis­pute, said Tues­day he is “ex­tremely con­cerned” about the cri­sis, and ex­pressed “bit­ter­ness” over what he called “un­prece­dented de­vel­op­ments,” with­out elab­o­rat­ing.

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