Erdogan vows to keep supporting Qatar
10 Jun 2017 - 8:19
Turkish President and the leader of the Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Recep Tayyip Erdogan gives a speech during an Iftar (fast-breaking) dinner event that organized by his party's Istanbul Province Branch within Muslims' holy month of Istanbul in Yenikapi neighborhood of Fatih District of Istanbul, Turkey on June 09, 2017. ( Yasin Bulbul / Anadolu Agency )
Ankara : Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday stressed that his country continues to provide all kinds of support to the State of Qatar, saying "There are those who are uncomfortable with us standing by our Qatari brothers, providing them with food. I'm sorry, we will continue to give Qatar every kind of support."
Erdogan's remarks came at Iftar banquet of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) office in Istanbul.
Commenting on US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's call for easing the blockade on Qatar, President Erdogan said "I say it should be lifted completely".
Turkey's president also called on Saudi Arabia to work on uniting the Arab Gulf States.
He said he has never known Qatar to give support to terror organisations, a charge made by Saudi Arabia and its allies.
While maintaining good relations with the Gulf states, Turkey has vowed to continue to back its close ties with Qatar, which Erdogan again defended yesterday. "They declare foundations established to provide different services as terror organisations. Something like this should not happen. I know those foundations. Until today I have not witnessed Qatar give support to terror," Erdogan said in Istanbul.
The Turkish leader called for the "blockade" against Doha to be "completely lifted", urging Saudi Arabia to show leadership and encourage good relations in the region.
"I have a request to the Saudi administration: you are the biggest in the Gulf, the strongest... not with hostilities, you should be the leader of fraternity there, you should bring everyone together," Erdogan said.
He also ratified a bill approved by Turkish lawmakers on Wednesday to deploy troops to a Turkish base in Qatar in a move seen as Ankara's show of support for Doha.
Erdogan defended the action, asking "our friends" in the Gulf: "Why does the American base not discomfort you? There are other countries' bases too, why doesn't it discomfort you?"
He was referring to the enormous Al-Udeid airbase, the United States' biggest in the Middle East which is home to some 10,000 US troops. It is a crucial hub for US military operations in the Middle East, especially the battle against the Islamic State group. Erdogan said Turkey would continue to help Qatar such as exporting food and medicine to them. "Sorry, but we will continue to give all kinds of support to Qatar," he said.