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Saudi Arabia, allies have list of demands for Qatar: US

WASHINGTON: Saudi Arabia and its allies have drawn up a list of demands to be presented to Qatar, the United States said Wednesday, as President Donald Trump discussed the regional crisis with new Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“We hope the list of demands will soon be presented to Qatar and will be reasonable and actionable,” said US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

“We support the Kuwaiti mediation effort and look forward to this matter moving toward a resolution,” added Tillerson, who has been tasked by Trump to oversee an end to a standoff that has put key US allies at loggerheads with one another.

Two weeks ago, Riyadh and several of its allies including Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, cut ties with Qatar over accusations that Doha supports extremist groups– a claim Qatar denies.

In addition to diplomatic isolation, other measures taken included closing Qatar’s only land border, banning its planes from using their airspace and barring Qatari nationals from transiting through their airports.

Trump’s administration has sent contradictory signals on the crisis. While the US president has made statements siding with Saudi Arabia, Washington has shown mounting frustration over the kingdom’s role in the crisis.

Tillerson’s spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Tuesday that the US was “mystified” that Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies have failed to present details justifying their embargo on Qatar.

“The more that time goes by, the more doubt is raised about the actions taken by Saudi Arabia and the UAE,” Nauert said.

On Wednesday, Trump discussed the Qatar row with Saudi Arabia’s newly-appointed crown prince, on a call during which he also offered his congratulations to the new heir to the throne.

“The president and the crown prince committed to close cooperation to advance our shared goals of security, stability, and prosperity across the Middle East and beyond,” the White House said in a statement.

“The two leaders discussed the priority of cutting off all support for terrorists and extremists, as well as how to resolve the ongoing dispute with Qatar,” the statement added.

On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman ousted his nephew as crown prince and installed Mohammed, his son, as heir to the throne.

Trump, 71, and Mohammed, 31, have met twice — once in Riyadh during the US leader’s recent trip to Saudi Arabia and once in mid-March at the White House.

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