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Qatar, neighbors trade barbs over boycott

China Daily | Updated: 2017-09-14 07:34

Doha calls Iran an honorable country, says ties had warmed

CAIRO - Diplomats from Qatar and the four states boycotting it exchanged heated words at an Arab League meeting on Tuesday.

Tensions flared after Qatar's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Sultan bin Saad al-Muraikhi discussed the boycott in his opening speech despite the Gulf dispute not being on the agenda.

He called the Gulf monarchy's critics "rabid dogs".

"Even the animals were not spared, you sent them out savagely," Muraikhi said, referring to the thousands of camels left stranded on the border between Qatar and Saudi Arabia after borders were closed.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen cut diplomatic and trade links with Qatar on June 5, suspending air and shipping routes with the world's biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas, which is home to the region's biggest military base of the United States.

The nations said Doha supports regional foe Iran and extremists. Qatar denies the charges and calls the economic boycott a "siege" aimed at neutering an independent foreign policy it says promotes peaceful regional reform and fights terrorism.

Kuwait has been trying to mediate in the dispute.

During his speech, Muraikhi referred to Iran as an "honorable country" and said ties had warmed with its neighbor since the blockade.

In response, Ahmed al-Qattan, Saudi Arabia's envoy to the Arab League, said: "Congratulations to Iran and soon, God willing, you will regret it."

The exchange descended into a row during which Muraikhi and Qattan each told the other to be quiet.

Muraikhi said Saudi Arabia was looking to depose the Emir of Qatar and replace him with Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, who helped negotiate the entry of Qatari pilgrims attending the annual hajj pilgrimage into Saudi Arabia.

"This is an improper thing to say because the kingdom of Saudi Arabia will never resort to such cheap methods and we don't want to change the regime, but you must also know that the kingdom can do anything it wants, God willing," Qattan said.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said Muraikhi's comments were unacceptable.

"We all know Qatar's historic support for terrorism and what has been provided for extremist factions, and money in Syria, Yemen, Libya and Egypt that have lead to the death of many of Egypt's sons," Shoukry said.

Qatar backed a Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt before it was overthrown by the military in 2013. The Arab states have demanded Qatar sever any links with the Brotherhood and other groups they deem to be terrorist, ideological or sectarian.

'Never missed shipment'

On Tuesday, Qatar's Energy Minister Mohammed al-Sada said his country had not missed any oil or gas shipments despite the blockade imposed by gulf countries, QNA news agency reported.

Speaking at the "Diplomatic Salon" organized by the Diplomatic Institute of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sada confirmed that Qatar continued supplying oil and gas to its clients worldwide.

"During this blockade, we have never missed a single shipment of oil or gas to any of our partners," he added.

"That shows how committed Qatar is, not only to our economy and reliability, but also to the consuming countries because this is a very strategic commodity," Sada said.

Reuters - Xinhua

Qatar, neighbors trade barbs over boycott

(China Daily 09/14/2017 page11)

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