World

Qatari minister says neighbours are aggressive

LONDON/CAIRO Qatar's Foreign Minister accused his four Gulf neighbours of "clear aggression" with their sanctions as the quartet met in Cairo to weigh further measures against a state they accuse of fostering terrorism in the region.

Mr Sheikh Mohammed Abdulrahman Al-Thani said the charges cited by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt in cutting diplomatic and transport links a month ago "were clearly designed to create anti-Qatar sentiment in the West".

"Qatar continues to call for dialogue despite the violation of international laws and regulations, despite the separation of 12,000 families, despite the siege that is a clear aggression and an insult to all international treaties, bodies and jurisdictions," he told a meeting at London's Chatham House think-tank.

The rift between Qatar and its Arab neighbours has aroused deep concern among Western allies, who see the region's ruling dynasties as key partners in energy and defence.

"Reading between the lines, the blockading countries were demanding that we have to surrender our sovereignty to end the siege, something which... Qatar will never do," Mr Sheikh Mohammed said.

As he spoke, the foreign ministers of the four countries were meeting in Cairo to consider Qatar's response to the 13 demands they have made in return for ending sanctions.

The Arab countries have demanded Qatar curtail its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, shut down the pan-Arab Al Jazeera TV channel, close a Turkish military base and downgrade its ties with regional arch-rival Iran.

Mr Sheikh Mohammed suggested he saw little hope of a rapid reconciliation.

Qatar faces possible expulsion from the Gulf Cooperation Council, a regional economic and security cooperation body founded in 1981, if its response to the demands fail to satisfy the Arab states. 
- REUTERS

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