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Qatar says Arab states’ demands ‘made to be rejected’, says open to talks

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheik Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani delivers a speech during a press conference in Doha, Qatar on 18 June, 2017 [Mohamed Farag/Anadolu Agency]
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheik Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani delivers a speech during a press conference in Doha, Qatar on 18 June, 2017 [Mohamed Farag/Anadolu Agency]

Demands made of Qatar by four other Arab states were designed to be rejected, Doha’s foreign minister said on Saturday, explaining that their ultimatum was aimed not at tackling terrorism but at curtailing his country’s sovereignty.

However Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, speaking to reporters in Rome, added Doha was still ready to sit down and discuss the grievances raised by its Arab neighbours.

He was speaking ahead of a deadline set by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt for Doha to accept 13 demands. Officials say they are aimed at ending a rift that erupted last month over accusations that Qatar supports terrorism, charges it denies.

Adding that Qatar was willing to engage in further dialogue given “the proper conditions”, Sheikh Mohammed said:

This list of demands is made to be rejected. It’s not meant to be accepted or … to be negotiated

The demands included severing ties with terrorist groups, closing down the pan-Arab Al Jazeera satellite channel, downgrading ties with arch-rival Iran and closing a Turkish air base in Qatar.

Arab states have said the demands are not negotiable and warned that further unspecified measures will follow if Qatar does not comply.

But Sheikh Mohammed was adamant.

“Regarding the demands and our position, we have been from the beginning very clear on this. We are not going to accept anything that infringes on our sovereignty or anything that is imposed on Qatar,” he said.

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