US unlikely to mediate Qatar diplomatic crisis

In a surprise move against a key USA ally, Trump suggested Qatar - home to the largest American airbase in the Middle East - was funding extremism as he tacitly backed the diplomatic blockade of the emirate. "They said they would take a hard line on funding extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar".

"Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!" he said.

Trump says on Twitter that it was good to see that his visit to Saudi Arabia was "already paying off".

Trump has repeatedly praised Saudi King Salman as the “wise” leader of the region, and indicated he considers the Saudis the leaders of the Sunni Muslim world. The statement also said that Trump "underscored that a united Gulf Cooperation Council is critical to defeating terrorism and promoting regional stability".

Along with Egypt, however, the UAE and Saudi Arabia could be vulnerable to retaliation, being highly dependent on Qatar for liquefied natural gas.

The president's sharp critique of Qatar pulled the US directly into a conflict that American diplomats had wanted the bickering parties to resolve among themselves.

At a separate briefing, State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said the USA recognises that Qatar has made some great efforts to try to stop financing of terror groups, including prosecuting suspected financiers, freezing assets, and introducing stringent controls on its banking system there. Those countries on Monday severed diplomatic ties with Qatar, leading to suspended flights and regional ports closed to Qatari ships as anxious residents started stockpiling food.

Qatar says the "baseless" allegations that it supports terrorism are being used to tarnish the image and unity of Gulf states. But its independent foreign policy has led to various tensions with its neighbors. The four nations alleged that Qatar harbors extremists and backs Saudi Arabia's regional rival, Iran. While he has even held out hopes that a communal effort could pave the way for Israeli-Arab rapprochement, the Qatar crisis serves as a reminder of the region's many fault lines that challenge USA diplomacy.

“A strong, united front among our key partners is the best way to overcome our shared challenges, ” this official said, also speaking only on condition of anonymity.

Hostage-taker in Australia had been acquitted of terror plot
Ashton confirmed the man worked at the apartment building, and said he was "at the wrong place, at the wrong time". Three people were convicted of conspiracy for that plot, which police thwarted before it could be executed.

"They have made progress", State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Tuesday, while adding that "they and we recognize more work remains to be done".

Only a day earlier, Trump's secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, had adopted the opposite approach, calling for calm, while avoiding taking sides. "Leaders pointed to Qatar - look!" he wrote yesterday morning, Washington time.

The Pentagon, whose air operations for the Middle East are headquartered at a massive air base in Qatar, where at least 10,000 US service members are stationed, also opted for balance and calming words.

The Pentagon cited no immediate effects from the instability on its operations.

The Pentagon announced earlier that there was no change in military cooperation between the USA and Qatar.

Yet a prolonged crisis will put significant pressure on Qatar.

The Gulf countries ordered their citizens out of Qatar and gave Qataris overseas 14 days to return home to their peninsular nation, whose only land border is with Saudi Arabia. All of the countries are friendly with the US, putting Trump in a potentially awkward position.

The Emir or Qatar with Donald Trump last month. Beyond hosting US troops, Qatar has invested billions in the USA and increased its clout in Washington along the way. It's one of the consequences of hosting a major sporting event that Qatar did not seem to anticipate amid the joy of beating the United States, Australia, Japan and South Korea in the 2010 vote. The visit also culminated in what the administration said was $110 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Panaji: Considering the large number of Goans working in Qatar, MP Shantaram Naik has intimated Union Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, seeking her assistance to protect the interests of Indians and Goans living and working in Qatar.

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