ISTANBUL: Turkey on Friday said the rights of Qatar must be respected as it hosted the defence minister of Ankara’s main Gulf ally which has been left isolated by Saudi-led sanctions.
Khaled bin Mohammed al-Attiyah met with Turkish Defence Minister Fikri Isik at the defence ministry in Ankara, the state-run news agency Anadolu said on Thursday.
The meeting came as Ankara, which has stood by Doha throughout the crisis, resists pressure to shutter a Turkish military base on the emirate that Qatar’s neighbours want to see closed.
In the talks, Isik said that “the current issues between the (Gulf) countries, who are brothers, must be resolved soon on the basis of a sincere dialogue and respect for Qatar’s rights.”
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain announced on June 5 the suspension of political, economic and diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting extremist groups.
Doha denies the claims. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the allegations are baseless and offered Ankara’s full support.
Turkey has provided food and other aid through hundreds of planes and a cargo ship, although Ankara’s attempts to mediate between the sides have so far come to nothing.
Crucially, Ankara is also setting up a military base on the emirate that is set to give Turkey a new foothold in the Gulf, sending in a first deployment of two dozen troops.
Last week Riyadh and its allies issued 13 demands to Qatar for resolving the crisis, including the closure of the Turkish military base and the Doha-based broadcaster Al-Jazeera.
Erdogan hit back at the Saudi-led demands, saying the sweeping demands were “against international law” and saying that asking for the withdrawal of Turkish troops was a “disrespect to Turkey.”
Yet Ankara has also been careful not to directly criticise Riyadh and previously urged the kingdom to lead attempts to solve the crisis.
US President Donald Trump spoke with Erdogan on Friday by telephone on the crisis, the White House and Turkish presidency said.