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Trump 'demands Saudi King end senseless blockade of Qatar' Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Trump 'demands Saudi King end senseless blockade of Qatar'

Last June, Riyadh and its allies broke off relations with Doha [Getty]

Date of publication: 12 April, 2018

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US President Donald Trump has reportedly demanded that Saudi Arabia and other Arab states end a ten-month long economic blockade on Qatar.

US President Donald Trump has reportedly demanded that Saudi Arabia and other Arab states end a ten-month long economic blockade on Qatar.

Trump told Saudi King Salman that he wanted the boycotting bloc to restore relations with Doha and gave a deadline of three weeks for the crisis to be settled, US officials told Reuters on Wednesday.

During a phone call between the leaders earlier this month, Trump struck a "forceful tone" and demanded swift action to end the conflict.

"[Trump] stressed that the feud the Saudis and Emirates are having with Qatar makes no sense," one official said.

A statement released by the White House after the April 2 conversation, says Trump "addressed his concerns about the ongoing dispute".

Trump welcomed the Qatari Emir to the White House on Tuesday, marking a major shift in the relationship between the two countries.

The US leader vouched publicly for Qatar's efforts to stop the funding of terrorism, reversing past critique.

Less than a year ago, Trump chided the gas-rich nation for historically funding terror at a "high level".

Trump has moderated his stance in recent months and during the meeting eased tensions by mentioning Saudi Arabia and the UAE as other past sponsors of terrorism.

The meeting came shortly after Trump greeted Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the White House last month at the start of the prince's marathon tour of the US.

Qatar has long sought to stress its role as an agreeable US partner in a strategically vital region.

The country hosts some 10,000 US troops at al-Udeid Air Base, a key command centre for US forces in the Middle East, and has been building new facilities for US troops there at Qatari expense in a bid to make it more comfortable.

Last June, Riyadh and its allies broke off relations with Doha, accusing it of fostering close links with Tehran and supporting Islamist extremists - a charge Qatar denies.

Qatar has rejected a series of demands made by the bloc, including closing media outlets such as Al Jazeera and the London-based The New Arab.

Doha has called for dialogue to end the crisis, which has been shunned by Saudi Arabia and its partners.

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