CAIRO: Four Arab states calling for combating terrorism vowed Wednesday to maintain their boycott of Qatar, criticizing its “negative” response to their list of demands to end the diplomatic crisis.
Doha’s response, they said, was “not serious” and betrayed Qatar’s “failure” to realize the gravity of the situation.
The announcement followed a meeting by foreign ministers from the four nations — Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain — in Cairo, shortly after they said they had received Doha’s reply.
“The political and economic boycott will remain until Qatar changes its policies for the better," Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said.
Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry told reporters Qatar’s response to the Arab states’ 13-point list of demands was “negative on the whole.” It did not “lay the foundations for Qatar’s abandonment of the policies it pursues. It’s a position that does not realize the gravity of the situation,” he added.
The ministers did not say what their next steps would be — that, they explained, would be announced after further consultations. They will meet next in Bahrain, but a date has yet to be set.
“We hope wisdom will prevail and Qatar will eventually make the right decisions,” added Shoukry, who said the four nations were acting against Qatar within the boundaries of international law as well as the interest to safeguard regional and international security.
Shoukry said Qatar’s policies could not be allowed to continue and vowed that Egyptian blood would not be shed in vain, a reference to deadly attacks by militants on Egyptian army and security forces.
UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan said Qatar was only interested in “destruction, incitement, extremism and terrorism,” rather than in good neighborly relations.
He added: “To defeat terrorism, we must confront extremism, we must confront hate speech, we must confront the harboring and sheltering of extremists and terrorists, and funding them… Unfortunately, we in this region see that our sister nation of Qatar has allowed and harbored and encouraged all of this.”
“Today’s meeting on Qatar was for coordination purposes and we will take full studied decisions later,” said Bahrain’s foreign minister, Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has sent UN political chief Jeffrey Feltman to the Gulf to discuss how the UN might work with regional partners to resolve the crisis.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters that Feltman has already been to the UAE and was in Kuwait, which is trying to mediate the conflict.
Dujarric says Feltman will be traveling to Doha.
US President Donald Trump, on Wednesday, discussed the Qatari crisis with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in a call. The US president called on all sides to negotiate constructively and reiterated the need for all countries to follow thorough on their commitments at the Riyadh Summit to stop terrorist financing and discrediting extremist ideology.