Foreign minister says list of demands put to Qatar unrealistic; Germany praises restraint by Doha

 04 Jul 2017 - 18:38

Foreign minister says list of demands put to Qatar unrealistic; Germany praises restraint by Doha
Qatari Foreign Minister H E Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani and his German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel shake hands following a joint press conference in the Qatari capital Doha on July 4, 2017. (AFP / KARIM JAAFAR)

AFP / Reuters

Doha: Qatar's foreign minister said Tuesday that demands put to Doha by Saudi Arabia and its allies in the Gulf diplomatic crisis were impossible to meet.

"The list is unrealistic and is not actionable," H E Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani told reporters in Doha.

"It's not about terrorism, it's talking about shutting down the freedom of speech," he said at a joint press conference after talks with German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel.

Qatar has shown restraint in responding to the diplomatic and economic blockade it has faced from Arab neighbours in recent weeks, and its neighbours should respond in a similar spirit, Gabriel said.

Concluding his whistle-stop tour of the Gulf region, Gabriel said Germany and Europe were prepared to help set up the kinds of international resolution mechanisms that were needed to foster dialogue, since Germany had a strong interest in the region and wanted to see its supply chains protected.

"Qatar has shown restraint in reacting to the blockade, we hope others will respond in a similar spirit," German FM said.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt -- who accuse Qatar of supporting extremism -- gave Doha an extra 48 hours to meet their demands after an initial 10-day deadline expired on Sunday.

These demands included Doha closing broadcaster Al-Jazeera as well as downgrading diplomatic ties with Iran.

Qatar officially handed its response to Kuwait on Monday, which is mediating in the dispute, but its contents have not been disclosed.

Sheikh Mohammed refused to give any further details on Tuesday, but said Doha was looking for a solution to the month-long crisis based on dialogue.

"The state of Qatar has adopted a very constructive attitude since the beginning of the crisis. We are tying to act mature and discuss the matter."

Gabriel, who visited Saudi Arabia on Monday, said he saw signs emerging of a chance to involve "international bodies" in the discussions and to get all sides involved in the dispute around the negotiating table.

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