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Arab bloc won’t discriminate against US firms in Qatar rift

File photo of the sky line in Doha, Qatar
File photo of the sky line in Doha, Qatar

Four Arab countries that imposed sanctions on Qatar have told the United States that US companies doing business with them would not be punished for also working with Doha, four sources with knowledge of the matter said.

Foreign firms have become increasingly cautious on their cross border dealings over concerns they could fall foul of the region’s biggest diplomatic crisis in years. UAE Ambassador to Russia Omar Ghobash said to Britain’s Guardian newspaper on June 28 that companies could be made to choose as part of a new round of sanctions on Qatar.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Bahrain sent a letter to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in July reassuring him that US companies would not be discriminated against as part of the boycott, according to sources with knowledge of the letter.

The European Union has been given similar “official … verbal assurances” by the UAE, the EU Delegation to the UAE told Reuters.

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In the letter to Tillerson, the four countries said that they valued and intended to maintain their relationships with US companies and that those ties would not be affected by the boycott, according to a source who has seen the letter.

The US Embassy in Abu Dhabi declined to comment on the letter. The four Arab states did not immediately respond to Reuters questions on the letter.

Tillerson made a four-day visit to the region in July where he met both sides of the dispute and made proposals to help end the crisis.

The four Arab countries cut diplomatic and trade links with Qatar on June 5, suspending air and shipping routes with the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas and the home to the region’s biggest US military base.

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