World

Trump claims credit for Arab countries cutting ties with Qatar

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump took sides in a deep rift in the Arab world on Tuesday, praising Middle East countries' actions against US ally Qatar over Islamist militants, even though the tiny Gulf state hosts the largest US air base in the region.

Mr Trump wrote on Twitter that his recent trip to the Middle East was "already paying off" and cast an anti-Islamist speech he made in Saudi Arabia as the inspiration for a decision by Arab powers to sever ties with Qatar in protest at what they say is the Gulf nation's support for terrorism.

"So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off. They said they would take a hard line on funding extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!" Mr Trump wrote on Twitter.

Qatar denies the accusations.

Mr Trump later spoke to Saudi King Salman by phone, said a senior White House official.

"His message was that we need unity in the region to fight extremist ideology and terrorist financing.

"It's important that the Gulf be united for peace and security in the region," the senior official told Reuters.

The US was not informed of the move by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates to sever ties until just before it was announced, the State Department said. 
- REUTERS

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