Tillerson calls on Arab nations to ease blockade on Qatar

Tillerson calls on Arab nations to ease blockade on Qatar

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Qatar must do more to crack down on support for terrorism but that the crisis must not disrupt action against the Islamic State group. Moscow said the report was false.

Adel al-Jubeir also addressed claims Qatar had drafted in the FBI to investigate how its state-run news agency was "hacked" in an incident that first rocked diplomatic relations.

It wasn't immediately clear how Qatar, which hosts some 10,000 USA troops, might respond to Trump's critique. Aircraft that fly out of Qatar - including fighter jets, drones and refueling planes - can be relocated to a number of other bases in the region including in Iraq, Turkey, Kuwait and Bahrain and off aircraft carriers, the officials said.

"We have great confidence in the president's ability to calm this crisis and to resolve it", Al Thani said in an interview.

Trump, in a later call with Abu Dhabi's crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan, called for unity among Gulf Arabs "but never at the expense of eliminating funding for radical extremism or defeating terrorism", the White House said.

The defence department on Tuesday praised Qatar for hosting USA forces and its "enduring commitment to regional security" while a Pentagon spokesman dodged reporters' questions about whether Qatar supported terrorism. The crisis has thrust the U.S. into a delicate position because of its alliances with all sides - and because Qatar hosts the nerve center for USA air operations in the Middle East, including the fight against Islamic State.

His comments echoed those he made earlier in the week, in which he praised the surprising sanctions handed down by Saudi Arabia, along with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt.

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Numerous others added to the list are figures associated with the Muslim Brotherhood who have made Qatar a base, including Brotherhood spiritual leader Yousef al-Qaradawi. Turkey, like Qatar, has supported the Muslim Brotherhood, which led an elected government in Egypt in 2013 but was ousted from power by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

In severing diplomatic ties with its Gulf neighbor on Monday, Riyadh accused Doha of supporting groups including some backed by Iran.

The SCO, seen by some as a counterweight to the US- and Europe-led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato), is a political and security grouping that facilitates counter-terrorism cooperation.

The Trump administration tried to defuse the deepening diplomatic rift over Qatar Friday - a situation that it appeared to take credit for earlier in the week.

"Until today I have not witnessed Qatar give support to terror", Erdogan said in Istanbul, adding that the Arab states "declare foundations established to provide different services as terror organizations".

Qatar is the regional headquarters for U.S. Central Command and home to some 10,000 American troops, NPR's Scott Horsley has reported.

Social media users claim the photo was taken at an unspecified mall in the UAE, and shows Barcelona players Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Luis Suarez on an advertisement billboard with the club's former sponsor censored.

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