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Gabriel: 'The hour of diplomacy' for Qatar

June 9, 2017

Germany's foreign minister is pursuing diplomacy to resolve the standoff over Qatar. Sigmar Gabriel said Middle Eastern states should lift the land, sea and air blockade they have imposed on the small Gulf country.

Wolfenbüttel Bundesaußenminister Sigmar Gabriel trifft den katarischen Außenminister Scheich Mohammed Al Thani
Image: Imago/photothek/T. Koehler

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel (left in photo) said Germany would support talks to prevent "further escalation" in the international standoff over Qatar. The foreign minister noted diplomatic efforts already begun by the United States, Kuwait and EU nations after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar for its perceived support of terrorism - a charge that officials in Doha have dismissed as baseless. Jordan has downgraded its ties.

"We are convinced that now is the hour of diplomacy and we must talk to each other," Gabriel said after meeting his Qatari counterpart. "Along with our American colleagues, but above all our colleagues in the region, we must try to find solutions, especially lifting the sea and air blockades," he said.

On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump, who earlier this week tweeted that he believed that Qatar funds extremists, called the nation's ruler, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and offered to host leaders at the White House to resolve the dispute.

Qatar's Al-Jazeera network has restored normal operations after an apparent cyberattack. On Thursday, domestic broadcaster Qatar Television also issued a statement claiming cyberattacks on its own website.

Are accusations 'baseless'?

Opponents accuse dozens of individuals, charities and organizations based in Qatar of supporting terror. Qatar Charity and Eid Charity were among the entities named in a list released Friday. Yousef al-Qaradawi, an Egypt-born Doha-based spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, was among those included.

At his press conference with Gabriel, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani (right in photo) dismissed the accusations and said the list included journalists and other individuals who had no relationship to his country - including people who had never even been there.

He said neighboring nations' land, sea and air blockade of Qatar amounted to an "unjust siege" and "clear violations of international law and international humanitarian law."

"What is the crime that Qatar committed to deserve this collective punishment that violates all international laws?" Mohammed said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has approved legislation that could see his country's troops deployed to Qatar. The legislation, which rapidly passed parliament after Erdogan openly sided with Qatar and criticized other Gulf countries' moves to isolate it, also foresees cooperation in military training.

mkg/jm (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)