Trump says time for Qatar to stop funding terror

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US President Donald Trump answers questions during a joint news conference with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis at the White House in Washington. (Reuters)
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US President Donald Trump and Romania's President Klaus Iohannis give a press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House. (AFP)
Updated 10 June 2017
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Trump says time for Qatar to stop funding terror

JEDDAH: The US president and his secretary of state denounced Qatar Friday in the strongest and clearest terms since the beginning of the diplomatic crisis, demanding that Doha immediately stop funding terrorism in the region.
President Donald Trump accused Qatar of funding terror “at a very high level,” and said solving the problem in the tiny Gulf nation could be “the beginning of the end of terrorism.”
Addressing a joint press conference with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis at the White House on Friday, Trump said Qatar “has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level.”
Praising Saudi King Salman as “my friend,” Trump said he hopes the summit he attended in Riyadh will be the beginning of the end of terrorism funding.
“We had a decision to make, do we take the easy road or do we finally take a hard but necessary action. We have to stop the funding of terrorism. I decided... the time had come to call on Qatar to end its funding.”
Trump said Arab leaders he met with in Saudi Arabia last month had urged him to confront Qatar over its behavior.
Other US officials have said Qatar has already taken some steps to reduce terror funding but that the steps are insufficient.
It was not immediately clear how Trump’s sharp condemnation might affect US cooperation with Qatar, which hosts some 10,000 US troops and a major US air base that serves as a staging ground for operations in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The Qatari Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Earlier, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Qatar must do more, “more quickly” to combat extremism.
Delivering a short statement at the State Department in Washington on Friday, he said: “US expectation is that Gulf countries would immediately take steps to de-escalate situation in region.”
“The GCC must emerge united and stronger,” he said.
Tillerson called on Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt to ease the  blockade on Qatar.
He faulted Qatar for allowing funds to flow to extremist groups. He said the US was asking Qatar to “be responsive to the concerns of its neighbors.”
“Qatar has a history of supporting groups that span the spectrum of political expression, from activism to violence,” Tillerson said.
He added: “He (the Qatari emir) must do more, and he must do it more quickly.”
Tillerson said the crisis was indeed affecting the US military.
Western diplomats accuse Qatar’s government of allowing or even encouraging the funding of some extremists, such as Al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria.
On Friday, Qatar’s neighbors put 12 organizations and 59 people on a terror sanctions list and described them as being associated with Qatar, in a fresh attempt to increase pressure.
Qatar, which has vowed to ride out the isolation, dismissed the terror listing as part of “baseless allegations that hold no foundation in fact.”
— With input from AP
 


White House’s Kushner to finalize Palestinian economic plan on Middle East tour -official

Updated 25 min 34 sec ago
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White House’s Kushner to finalize Palestinian economic plan on Middle East tour -official

  • White House senior adviser Kushner will visit Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE

WASHINGTON: White House senior adviser Jared Kushner will lead a US delegation on a tour of the Middle East to finalize details of his proposed $50 billion economic development plan for the Palestinians, Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon, an administration official said on Sunday.
Kushner, Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt, State Department official Brian Hook and Kushner aide Avi Berkowitz are expected to make make stops in Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, the official said.
They leave late this month and return to Washington in early August.
The official said the purpose of the trip is to “continue on the momentum that was created at the workshop in Bahrain and finalize the economic portion of the plan.”
They will also discuss the possibility of locating the development fund in Bahrain, the official said.
Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and the plan’s main architect, sought to build support for his ambitious economic proposals for the Palestinian territories at an international meeting in Bahrain in June.
Palestinians poured scorn on the Trump administration’s $50 billion investment plan to help achieve Middle East peace, but US Gulf Arab allies said the economic initiative had promise if a political settlement is reached.
Kushner and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin last week discussed creation of the fund with World Bank President David Malpass, the official said. The World Bank has a role in managing the fund.
The delegation was not expected to discuss Trump’s long-awaited political plan for the Middle East, and when it will be released remains unclear.