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US calls on Arab nations to ease blockade against Qatar

--Courtesy "malaysianaccess"

Washington: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Friday called on Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirate (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt to ease blockade against Qatar.

The blockade is hindering US military actions in the region and the campaign against the Islamic State group, Tillerson said, adding that it is also impairing US business activities in the region and bringing about humanitarian consequences, Xinhua reporeted.

“Now the situation in the Arabian Gulf over the last few days is troubling to the United States, the region, and to many people who are directly affected,” Tillerson said in a televised remark at the State Department.

In a diplomatic row erupted in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt have cut off diplomatic relations with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism. Libya, Yemen and the Maldives followed suit. Qatar has rejected the accusations as “unjustified” and “baseless”.

US President Donald Trump has offered to help Qatar and the other Arab nations resolve their differences, and asked Tillerson to act as a mediator of the dispute.

On Friday, Tillerson also urged Qatar to be “responsive to the concerns of its neighbours,” adding that “Qatar has a history of supporting groups that have spanned the spectrum of political expression, from activism to violence.”

The top US diplomat noted that Qatar has made progress in halting financial support and expelling terrorist elements from his country, but he urged the country to “do more” and “do it more quickly”.