China / World

Qatar given 48 hours to accept demands

(China Daily) Updated: 2017-07-04 07:25

DOHA - A group of Arab nations on Monday extended a deadline for Qatar to respond to their list of demands in a diplomatic crisis roiling the Gulf by 48 hours, saying Kuwait's emir requested the delay as part of his efforts to mediate the dispute.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain cut off ties with 2022 FIFA World Cup host Qatar on June 5, restricting access to their airspace and ports and sealing Qatar's only land border, which it shares with Saudi Arabia.

They issued a 13-point list of demands to end the standoff on June 22 and gave the natural gas-rich country 10 days to comply.

The joint statement on Monday by the nations said they expected Qatar to respond to their demands later in the day. The new deadline would expire late on Tuesday or early Wednesday. Foreign ministers of the four countries were scheduled to meet Wednesday in Cairo to discuss their next moves, Egypt said on Monday.

"The response of the four states will then be sent following the study of the Qatari government's response and assessment of its response to the whole demands," the statement said.

Trump urges unity

US President Donald Trump, meanwhile, spoke with Qatar's emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, as well as King Salman of Saudi Arabia and Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the crown prince of the Emirati capital, Abu Dhabi.

The White House said Trump urged unity and reiterated the importance of stopping terrorist financing and discrediting extremist ideology. A separate statement carried on the official Qatar News Agency said the emir's discussion with Trump touched on the need to fight terrorism and extremism in all its forms and sources, and was a chance for the countries to review their bilateral strategic relations.

Qatar, like the countries lined up against it, is a US ally. It hosts 10,000 US troops at the sprawling al-Udeid Air Base. The desert facility is home to the forward headquarters of the US Central Command and has been a key staging ground for the campaign against the Islamic State extremists and the war in Afghanistan.

The four nations cut ties to Qatar over allegations it supports extremists and over worries it maintains too-close ties to Iran. Qatar has denied such claims.

"We are ready. We stand ready to defend our country. I hope that we don't come to a stage where, you know, a military intervention is made," Qatari Defense Minister Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah told Sky News.

Ap - Reuters

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