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Gulf states announce humanitarian gesture to help families with Qatari members

Cars drive in Doha, Qatar, on Sunday. (REUTERS)

JEDDAH: As the week-long Qatari crisis drags on without a clear commitment from Doha to renounce terrorism, three Gulf states announced on Sunday a humanitarian gesture to help families with Qatari members.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE announced hotlines to help affected families, as Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman discussed efforts to “counterterrorism and extremism” in a phone call with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
Kuwait, which is trying to mediate a solution to the regional crisis, on Sunday said Qatar is ready to listen to the concerns of Gulf states that have cut diplomatic and economic ties.
Kuwait “affirms the readiness of the brothers in Qatar to understand the reality of the qualms and concerns of their brothers and to heed the noble endeavors to enhance security and stability,” Kuwait’s state news agency KUNA quoted Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah as saying.
Kuwait, which has retained ties with Qatar and has often acted as a mediator in regional disputes, said it wanted to resolve the dispute “within the unified Gulf house.”
In another development Sunday, Iran sent four cargo planes of food to Doha. Five aircraft carrying around 90 tons of vegetables each had been sent to Qatar in recent days, said Iran Air spokesman Shahrokh Noushabadi, adding: “We will continue deliveries as long as there is demand.”
In addition, African Union (AU) Chairman Alpha Conde on Sunday put himself forward as a mediator in the crisis, and urged dialogue after several African nations recalled their ambassadors to Qatar.
Conde, who is president of Guinea, which has close ties to Saudi Arabia, said in a letter to King Salman that he had observed with “sadness” the feud between Qatar and its Gulf neighbors, which he described as “brother countries” of Muslim-majority Guinea.
“Only dialogue will allow us to reach a real compromise,” Conde added in the letter, praising King Salman’s “wisdom” and “know-how” in battling extremism.
In another setback for Doha, the world soccer body FIFA removed a Qatari referee from a 2018 World Cup qualifier following a request from the UAE.
The Zurich-based organization said it agreed with the UAE that the Qataris due to officiate the game against Thailand in Bangkok on Tuesday should be replaced.
Instead, a referee from Singapore will take charge of the qualifier for next year’s tournament in Russia. He will be assisted by a fellow Singaporean and two officials from Malaysia.
— With input from Reuters, AFP, AP

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