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Stop funding terror, teaching hate: Trump to Qatar

10 June 2017

Tillerson said the decision of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt to cut diplomatic and economic relations with the neighboring, energy-rich emirate was having dire humanitarian consequences and hurting USA military operations fighting Islamic State militants. More than 11,000 USA and coalition forces are at the base, from which more than 100 aircraft operate.

Gulf allies tightened their squeeze on Qatar on Friday by putting dozens of figures with links to the tiny, wealthy nation on terrorism blacklists. "And its extremists ideology in terms of funding", he said.

"The blockade is hindering US military actions in the region and the campaign against ISIS", Tillerson said, though he declined to say how, even as he contradicted the Pentagon.

The president's words are a strong claim against Qatar, a key U.S. military ally that has consistently denied allegations of its support for terror organizations. Those involved in the restrictions include Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya, Mauritius and the Maldives.

He identified three men who are suspected of providing funds and other support to al Qaeda in Iraq, Syria and Pakistan, and who the U.S. Treasury Department says have financed terrorism.

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President Trump has offered to host a conciliatory meeting in the White House, according to his administration.

Tillerson said the US will support Kuwait-led efforts to mediate an end to the diplomatic row.

"Qatar has a history of supporting groups that span the spectrum of political expression, from activism to violence", he said during a news conference.

"There are humanitarian consequences to this blockade", Tillerson urged.

The Associated Press reports that Arab nations early Friday put 12 organizations and 59 people on a terror sanctions list for associating with Qatar, the latest move in the growing diplomatic dispute. Trump does not oppose easing the blockade - although he did not mention it - but "he does believe that (Qatar) deserves it", the official said.

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On Tuesday, Trump tweeted his support for the Gulf embargo, taking some credit for the decision which he claimed was a reaction to his Saudi visit in May.

Trump had asked Tillerson to help mediate the crisis, and the secretary has been calling his counterparts in the region to "de-escalate" the situation and resolve their grievances.

Tillerson began his remarks at the State Department with a tough message for Qatar to "be responsive to the concerns of its neighbors".

Asian football officials are monitoring the diplomatic crisis between Qatar and other Arab states, hoping to minimise the impact on global competitions being played in the Gulf region. "The time had come to call on Qatar to end its funding".

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