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Qatar slams Saudi, says hosting Taliban reconciliation talks doesn’t amount to supporting terrorism

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Qatar has claimed to be under an ‘illegal siege’ by the Saudi-led alliance after U.S. President Donald Trump accused Qatar of being a supporter  and ‘funder’ of terrorists and extremists. Now, The Kingdom is putting immense pressure on Washington to move key military base from the Gulf state.

Qatar has now asked United States to provide evidence that Doha is supporting terrorism when it has been hosting Taliban reconciliation talks at the request of Washington to bring peace in Afghanistan.

Mutlaq al-Qahtani, a senior counterterrorism adviser to Qatar’s foreign minister said Qatar hosted the Taliban “by request by the US government” and as part of Qatar’s “open-door policy, to facilitate talks, to mediate and to bring peace.”

Qatari counterterrorism adviser has insisted that Doha allowed Taliban to open an office in 2013 as a part of their efforts to mediate and bring peace in Afghanistan, but the Qatari government later shut it down. While Taliban leaders are still said to be in Doha.

Qahtani also told that Qatar “was facilitating the talks between the Americans, the Taliban, and the government of Afghanistan.”

Saudi played host to  Premier Sharif and army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and has asked  them  to support its stand is in the ongoing crisis in the Middle Eats diplomatic row but Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has told Saudi Arabia that  Pakistan will not take sides in the ongoing  the Middle East diplomatic row, leading King Salman to ask Islamabad “are you with us or with Qatar”.

Aware of the fact that Pakistan has close ties with Gulf countries, Pakistan  told the Saudi leadership that Islamabad would support any efforts to foster unity among the Muslim Ummah. However, Pakistan would not take sides in any event that would create divisions within the Muslim world.”

Pakistan has been treading cautiously since Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries snapped diplomatic ties with Qatar after accusing the oil-rich country of supporting terrorist groups.

Riyadh wants Islamabad to side with the kingdom to isolate Qatar but Pakistan insisted that it will use its influence over Qatar to defuse the situation and for that purpose, the prime minister will undertake visits to Kuwait, Qatar and Turkey.

“This is primarily an issue among the Gulf countries and we hope they resolve the issue by themselves.”

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, the Maldives, and Egypt snapped their diplomatic ties with Qatar over accusations that the Qatari government sponsors extremist groups, including the Taliban. The regional countries have also suspended all land, air, and sea traffic with Qatar.

Qatar has however rejected the accusations that it supports extremism, and the country’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdurrahman Al Thani has said, “Doha would not “surrender” under political pressure.”

The U.S. has a military base in Qatar, which it says is crucial to its operations in the Middle East. Meanwhile, Kuwait is acting as a mediator to resolve the crisis and Qatar has agreed to listen to the concerns of Gulf Arab states.

arti bali

By : Arti Bali

Senior Journalist

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