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
 


US sanctions target Iranians’ access to food, medicine: foreign minister

Updated 6 min 24 sec ago

US sanctions target Iranians’ access to food, medicine: foreign minister

  • The United States on Friday imposed a new round of sanctions on Iran
  • Unconfirmed reports on social media said a number of Iranian websites were under a cyberattack

DUBAI: Iran’s foreign minister on Saturday denounced renewed US sanctions against its central bank as an attempt to deny ordinary Iranians access to food and medicine, and said the move was a sign of US desperation.
The United States on Friday imposed a new round of sanctions on Iran, some aimed at its central bank and sovereign wealth fund, following attacks on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia that Riyadh and US officials have blamed on Iran.
Iran denies involvement in the attacks, which initially halved oil output from Saudi Arabia. Responsibility was claimed by Yemen’s Houthi movement, an Iranian-aligned group fighting a Saudi-led alliance in Yemen’s civil war.
“This is a sign of US desperation ... When they repeatedly sanction the same institution, this means their attempt at bringing the Iranian nation to its knees under ‘maximum pressure’ has failed,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters in remarks shown on state television.
“But this is dangerous and unacceptable as an attempt at blocking ... the Iranian people’s access to food and medicine,” Zarif said, speaking after arriving in New York for the annual UN General Assembly next week.
Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports on social media said a number of Iranian websites — including those of some petrochemical firms — were under a cyberattack. There was no immediate official comment, and the websites of the main state oil company NIOC appeared to be functioning normally. Residents said their Internet access was not affected.
The fresh sanctions target the Central Bank of Iran, which was already under other US sanctions, the National Development Fund of Iran — the country’s sovereign wealth fund — and an Iranian company that US officials say is used to conceal financial transfers for Iranian military purchases.
Zarif said he would meet on Wednesday with foreign ministers of the remaining signatories to the 2015 nuclear accord, which was agreed with Britain, France, Germany China and Russia as well as the United States.
“As we have said before, the United States can only attend if it returns to the (nuclear accord) ... and ends its economic war against Iran,” Zarif said.
The United States withdrew from the accord last year and re-imposed unilateral sanctions on Iran.
“I hope the US government realizes that they are no longer the only economic superpower in the world and that there are many countries that want to benefit from the Iranian market,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said, according to state media.