Qatar given 48 more hours to meet Gulf demands

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Riyadh, July 3 (IANS) Saudi Arabia and three other Arab countries that issued an ultimatum to Qatar over its alleged support to terrorism have extended by two more days the deadline for the country to accept their demands or face further sanctions.

The initial deadline for Qatar to agree to the group’s 13 demands, including the shutting down of the Al Jazeera news network, expired on Sunday, BBC reported.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt issued a joint statement late Sunday that they have extended the ultimatum for 48 more hours at the request of Kuwaiti emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.

Qatar, which denies funding extremism, will submit a formal response on Monday. The country has already called the demands an “affront to international law”.

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The four Gulf countries in June severed diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar, which they accuse of supporting Iran and harbouring terrorist organisations like the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic State, and giving them a platform on the Al Jazeera channel.

The Foreign Ministers of these four nations will meet on Wednesday to discuss the situation. The list of demands to overcome the crisis comprised 13 points, including the end of diplomatic relations with Iran and the closure of a Turkish military base in the emirate.

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman al-Thani arrived in Kuwait on Monday to deliver a formal response in the form of a letter from the Emir of Qatar to the Emir of Kuwait.

In a statement, lawyers for Qatar denounced the demands and called for international condemnation.

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They said the tactics were “reminiscent of the extreme and punitive conduct of ‘bully’ states that have historically resulted in war”.

“The world must unite immediately to halt the singling out of Qatar for unjustified collective punishment and humiliation and to preserve peace, security and prosperity in the region,” the statement said.

Qatar has been under unprecedented diplomatic and economic sanctions for weeks from Saudi Arabia and its allies.

The imposed restrictions have caused turmoil in Qatar, an oil- and gas-rich nation dependent on imports to meet the basic needs of its population of 2.7 million. As a result, Iran and Turkey have been increasingly supplying it with food and other goods, the report said.

UAE officials said that after the new deadline expires on Tuesday and then the offer for Qatar to return to the Arab fold will be off the table. The economic and political sanctions on it will become permanent and Qatar will be ostracised by its closest Arab neighbours.

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