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US to appoint Qatar ambassador amid Gulf row

Trump met with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in April [Getty]

Date of publication: 19 October, 2018

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The White House announced that US President Donald Trump intends to nominate Mary Phee as ambassador to Qatar.
The United States has said it would appoint an ambassador to Qatar, after a 16-month gap during which Doha has been at the centre of a regional diplomatic crisis.

The White House announced on Wednesday that US President Donald Trump intends to nominate Mary Phee, who previously served as US ambassador to Sudan, after Dana Shell Smith resigned last year. 

Smith - who has criticised Trump's handling of the State Department - stepped down from her post just days after the diplomatic crisis erupted between Qatar and its neighbours.  

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed ties with Doha on June 5, 2017 over allegations it seeks closer ties with Saudi Arabia's arch-rival Iran and supports radical Islamist groups. 

Qatar denies the charges, accusing its neighbours of seeking regime change. The four countries continue an embargo of the small gas-rich Gulf state, which on Thursday marked 500 days.

In the beginning, Trump appeared to back Saudi Arabia's diplomatic stand-off with Doha - especially over the issue of terror funding.

However, in a White House meeting in April with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the US president emphasised strategic ties between the two countries.

Qatar is home to America's largest military base in the Gulf, al-Udeid, where some 10,000 US troops are stationed and from which Washington deploys warplanes used in the battle against the Islamic State group.

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