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

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
 


Bahrain hosts meeting on maritime security after Gulf attacks

Updated 6 min 27 sec ago

Bahrain hosts meeting on maritime security after Gulf attacks

  • Following recent attacks against tankers in the Gulf, the United States formed a naval coalition to protect navigation in a region that is critical to global oil supplies
  • Tension between Tehran and Washington has grown since the United States abandoned a multinational deal on curbing Iran’s nuclear program last year

DUBAI: Representatives from more than 60 countries met in Bahrain on Monday to discuss maritime security following attacks on tankers in the Gulf and Saudi oil installations.

The United States, other Western states and Saudi Arabia blame the attacks on Tehran, which denies any involvement.

“We all must take a collective stand... to take the necessary steps to protect our nations from rogue states,” Bahraini Foreign Minister Khaled bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa told the meeting.

“This meeting comes at a critical moment in history,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote in a letter to the meeting’s participants.

“The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their means of delivery, whether by air or sea, poses a serious threat to international peace and security,” he wrote.

“Together, we must all be committed to taking the necessary actions to stop countries that continue to pursue WMD at great risk to all of us,” Pompeo said, in apparent reference to Iran.

Tension between Tehran and Washington has grown since the United States abandoned a multinational deal on curbing Iran’s nuclear program last year and reimposed heavy sanctions on the country.

The meeting’s participants belong to the Maritime and Aviation Security Working Group, created in February during a Middle East conference in Warsaw.

“The meeting is an occasion to exchange views on how to deal with the Iranian menace and to guarantee freedom of navigation,” Bahrain’s foreign ministry said on Twitter.

Following recent attacks against tankers in the Gulf, the United States formed a naval coalition to protect navigation in a region that is critical to global oil supplies.

Bahrain, which hosts the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, joined the coalition in August. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates joined in September.

The United Kingdom and Australia are the principal Western partners of the US who have agreed to send warships to escort commercial shipping in the Gulf.