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Erdogan visits Gulf in bid to defuse Qatar row

July 23, 2017 at 10:05 pm

People in Qatar hang posters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to show gratitude to Turkey for their support during the blockade on Qatar on 12 June, 2017 [Mohamed Farag/Anadolu Agency]

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan travelled to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait on Sunday, the Gulf states’ official news agencies reported, as part of a diplomatic tour aimed at healing an Arab rift with Ankara’s ally Qatar.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties and imposed sanctions on Qatar last month, accusing it of supporting terrorism. Doha denies the charges.

The boycotting countries want Qatar to close down a Turkish base, curb relations with their arch-foe Iran and shutter the Al Jazeera TV channel. Kuwait is seeking to mediate in the crisis.

Saudi King Salman and Erdogan discussed “efforts to combat terrorism and its sources of funding”, the Saudi press agency reported, without elaborating.

Read: Backing Qatar, Erdogan may have little room to manoeuvre in Gulf visit

Erdogan arrived in Kuwait in the evening and is scheduled to visit Qatar to conclude the two-day trip.

Under a 2014 agreement, Ankara maintains a military base in Qatar which is set to eventually host as many as 1,000 troops.

The two countries also maintain ideological ties, as Erdogan’s party has Islamist roots and Doha is a main backer of the Muslim Brotherhood, which its Arab opponents deem a terrorist organisation.