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Emirati diplomat to AP: 'Nothing to negotiate' with Qatar


Arab states could impose an embargo on Qatar if it does not change course regarding its support of "extremism" and "destructive policies" in the region, United Arab Emirates Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said on Wednesday.

Speaking to the AP from a Foreign Ministry office in Dubai, Gargash listed a number of terror groups he alleged Qatar had funded, including al-Qaida's branches in Syria and Somalia, militants in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and other group's with "al-Qaida-type organizations" in Libya.

The tough talk from the Gulf Cooperation Council members came on Wednesday despite efforts by US President Donald Trump and Kuwait's emir to prevent a further escalation of the dispute, which started on Monday when Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain announced they were severing diplomatic relations with fellow GCC country Qatar.

Turkey has also sought to rebuild frayed ties with Riyadh and Abu Dhabi over the past year, and did not openly side with Qatar as tensions erupted three weeks ago.

President Trump urged Gulf unity in a call to Saudi Arabia's King Salman, US officials said on Wednesday.

Meanwhile a senior UAE official said more punitive measures on Qatar, including further curbs on business, remain on the table in the dispute. Qatar vehemently denies the accustations.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has warned its citizens against publicly expressing anything in favour of Qatar after several Arab nations chose to sever ties with Doha. He offered no documents to support his claim, but Western officials long have accused Qatar's government of allowing or even encouraging funding of Sunni extremists.

Qatar-based broadcaster Al-Jazeera said that it was under a wide-scale cyberattack, which had targeted "all systems", according to a statement released on social media by the broadcaster.

On top of a possible jail term, offenders would also be hit with a fine of at least 500,000 dirhams, the newspaper said, citing a statement to Arabic-language media.

Turkey is a key ally of Qatar and is setting up a military base in the country which also hosts the largest USA air base in the Middle East.

Russian Federation and Turkey have inserted themselves in the GCC crisis, with Ankara fast-tracking plans to send more troops to its new permanent military base in Qatar.

This is the reason why Saudi Arabia and UAE pledged $12 billion aid to Egypt when military strongman Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ousted Mohammed Morsi, the country's first democratically elected president of the Muslim Brotherhood.

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