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In Qatar, Tillerson calls for resolution to Gulf dispute

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is in Qatar to urge a speedy resolution to a regional diplomatic conflict. Saudi Arabia and other Arab states have ostracized Doha over its alleged funding of terrorism.

In Doha on Tuesday, Washington's chief diplomat attempted to resolve a monthlong diplomatic standoff between Qatar and its neighbors.

"I think Qatar has been quite clear in its positions," US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters after meeting with Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani on Tuesday, "and I think those have been very reasonable."

A joint statement issued Monday by the US, Britain and Kuwait expressed "deep concern" over the continued rift and called on all sides to resolve the dispute.

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Progress on Qatar crisis proving elusive

The remarks, published by Kuwait's KUNA news agency, followed talks between Tillerson; his Kuwaiti counterpart, Sheikh Sabah Khaled al-Sabah; and Britain's national security adviser, Mark Sedwill.

Multiparty talks continue

Tillerson is in the region until Thursday for talks in Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia in what is the first serious intervention by Washington in the Gulf dispute.

On June 5, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt abruptly severed diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar after accusing the government of ties to extremist groups and Iran, the common foe of many nations in the region. The action has closed air, sea and road links between the four states and Qatar.

Read more: German intelligence to shed light on Qatar terror allegations

Qatar's government has denied those charges and rejected a list of 13 demands from its neighbors that includes downgrading ties with Tehran, closing a Turkish military base and shutting the broadcaster Al-Jazeera.

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Gulf diplomatic row: Qatar faces Arab ultimatum

New demands due

The Saudi-led alliance has since vowed to issue additional demands, and on Monday accused Qatar of failing to meet its commitments under the 2013 Riyadh Agreement, in which Gulf states pledged to combat terror funding.

The nations charge that - under the previously secret accord, which was leaked to CNN hours before Tillerson's arrival in the region - Qatar also promised to desist interfering in its neighbors' politics.

US President Donald Trump expressed support for longtime US ally Saudi Arabia in the dispute, but the State Department has since taken a more neutral position.

Read more: Top US senator to block arms sales to Gulf states over Qatar crisis

Washington is concerned that the standoff could affect its military and counterterrorism operations as Qatar hosts the largest US military facility in the Middle East, which is being used to launch airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.

mm/gsw (AFP, Reuters)

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