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UK urges Gulf nations to de-escalate tensions

13th Jun 2017
UK urges Gulf nations to de-escalate tensions

LONDON (AA): British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson Monday urged the Gulf nations to de-escalate ongoing regional tensions through dialogue.

The foreign secretary’s call for dialogue came following a meeting with his Qatari counterpart Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani in London.

Johnson will also meet his counterparts from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) this week, a government statement said.

He urged Sheikh Mohammed to “engage with neighbours on their concerns and do more to address support for extremist groups, building on the steps already taken,” it said.

“I have urged all sides to refrain from any further escalation and to engage in mediation efforts. In that regard I pay tribute to the work of the Emir of Kuwait,” Johnson said after the meeting.

Johnson urged Qatar to “take seriously their neighbors’ concerns.”

Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Bahrain cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism.

“Qatar is a partner of the UK in the fight against terrorism but they urgently need to do more to address support for extremist groups, building on the steps they have already taken to tackle funding to those groups,” he said.

Johnson said he was also concerned by some of the strong actions taken by Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain against Qatar, asking urged them to ease the blockade.

“I call on all states to take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation and to find a rapid resolution through mediation,” he said.

“In all meetings, the foreign secretary will urge his counterparts to take immediate steps to de-escalate the current tensions and find a rapid resolution through mediation,” the statement said.

Johnson will also “express the UK’s concern that collective action by the other Gulf states is having an adverse impact on the lives of ordinary people in Qatar,” it added.

Meanwhile the Arab League has denied plans to discuss the political crisis in the Gulf during a scheduled meeting on Monday.

The pan-Arab body is set to meet in Cairo at the level of permanent delegates to discuss the growing Israeli presence in Africa.

Somalia will not sever ties with Qatar as the Gulf state becomes increasingly isolated from its nieghbors, a senior Somali diplomat has told Anadolu Agency.

“Somalia has taken a neutral position,” Abdi Halane Hirsi, spokesman and cultural attache at the Somali embassy in Pretoria, said. “We shall not end ties with either Saudi Arabia or Qatar. Our Foreign Ministry issued a statement calling for dialogue to resolve this issue.”

Hirsi denied media reports suggesting Saudi Arabia had withheld $50 million in aid it earlier pledged to the Horn of Africa country until it cuts ties with Qatar.

[Archive Photo: Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. Photographer: Issam Rimawi/AA]

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