World

Group vows further steps against Doha

Saudi-led coalition threatens Qatar over refusal to meet demands

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and its allies yesterday criticised Qatar's refusal to accept conditions to end the Gulf's biggest diplomatic crisis in years as a threat to regional security.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain said Qatar's rejection of a list of demands they set to lift sanctions on Doha "reflects its intention to continue its policy, aimed at destabilising security in the region", according to a statement on the official SPA news agency.

"All political, economic and legal measures will be taken in the manner and at the time deemed appropriate to preserve the four countries' rights, security and stability," the statement added, without elaborating on the potential measures.

The four states last month announced the severing of all diplomatic ties with Qatar over allegations the emirate bankrolled Islamist extremists and had close ties with Saudi's arch-rival Iran.

On June 22, they issued a 13-point list of demands, including the shutdown of broadcast giant Al Jazeera, as a prerequisite to lift the sanctions, which include the closure of Qatar's only land border and suspension of all flights to and from the country.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry on Wednesday said it had received Qatar's response to its demands.

NEGATIVE RATING

Credit rating agency Moody's has announced it was changing the emirate's outlook to negative from stable.

Meanwhile, United States Defence Secretary Jim Mattis reaffirmed the US' strategic security partnership with Qatar, the Pentagon said.

It was also announced that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will travel to Kuwait - the key mediator in the crisis - on July 10 to discuss the row.

Mr Mattis, who spoke with his Qatari counterpart Khaled Mohammed al-Attiyah by phone, discussed the status of operations against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Qatar hosts a vital US-led command centre at the Al-Udeid Air Base, where the anti-ISIS coalition launches raids against the jihadists.

"Secretary Mattis and Minister al-Attiyah affirmed their commitment to continued US-Qatar cooperation and deepening their strategic partnership," a Pentagon readout of the conversation stated.

Mr Mattis stressed the importance of de-escalating tensions "so all partners in the Gulf region can focus on next steps in meeting common goals", the readout stated. - AFP

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