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International

Арабские страны усилят блокаду Катара

14:10, Sunday, 30 July, 2017
Арабские страны усилят блокаду Катара

Dubai: Top officials of four Arab states blockading Qatar are scheduled to meet in the Bahraini capital Sunday, as a political crisis that has split the Gulf enters its second month.

The foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt will meet in Manama in a bid to persuade Qatar to "change its policies," read a statement on state news agency BNA.

On Sunday, the Saudi-led bloc will study imposing more sanctions, Saudi-owned Al-Hayat newspaper reported.

Qatar says the blockade is an attempt by Saudi Arabia to force smaller nations into submission.

On June 5, the Saudi-led bloc cut diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar -- the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas -- over allegations the emirate supported extremism and had close ties to Iran.

The Saudi-led bloc recalled their ambassadors, ordered all Qataris to return home and banned Qatar from using their airspace.

Qatar has denied the allegations and accuses the bloc of imposing a "blockade" on the emirate.

Qatar has also rejected the bloc's demands -- which include downgrading ties to Iran and closing both the Al-Jazeera news channel and a Turkish military base in the country -- as a violation of its sovereignty.

Bahrain's King Hamad on Saturday called for "the solidarity of all Arab countries in fighting terrorism and cutting off its financing... for the defence of our homelands" ahead of the meeting, which comes after the Saudi-led bloc held talks in Cairo earlier this month.

Kuwait is leading mediation efforts in the crisis, the worst to grip the region since the 1981 creation of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council.

Kuwait and Oman -- GCC members along with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar -- have not joined the Qatar blockade.

Efforts to resolve the crisis have reached an impasse, a Gulf official with direct knowledge of the matter said last week, amid signs the four-nation bloc wanted to extract more concessions from the Gulf nation.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited the region this month but failed to secure a breakthrough. “The dispute is at a standstill,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters in Washington Thursday.

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