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Qatar set to respond to demands of Saudi-led group

03 July 2017

Qatar's foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani is reported to have arrived in the Kuwaiti capital carrying an official response to a list of demands from the Saudi-led bloc, according to official sources in Doha.

The move, which comes ahead of the deadline set by the `siege countries', which was extended by 48 hours, could only be a rebuttal of demands of the four Arab nations who have placed unrealistic demands on Qatar.

Qatar has rejected the accusations, calling them "unjustified" and "baseless."

The coalition had earlier given Qatar 10 days to meet its list of 13 demands, including shutting down the Al-Jazeera media network, reducing diplomatic ties with Iran and cutting ties with terrorist organisations, with ends today (3 July). This has now been extended to 5 July.

Kuwait's Emir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, reportedly made the request for an extension to the 3 July deadline after receiving assurances from the Qataris that they would still deliver their response to him by Monday.

The Qatari foreign minister had earlier made a statement explaining Qatar's stand in the rift with the four Arab neighbours, although envoys have been working hard to tackle the crisis that has spawned diplomatic tensions throughout the region.

Abdulrahman Al-Thani was to deliver the letter from the ruler of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, who has been the main mediator during this crisis.

Meanwhile, leaders of the United States and Russia have stepped in to douse the fire, expressing their concerns about the standoff after the four countries abruptly suspended diplomatic relations and cut off land, sea and air travel to Qatar on 5 June, accusing it of supporting terrorism and destabilising the Gulf region.

US President Donald Trump has spoken to Saudi, Emirati and Qatari leaders in separate phone calls expressing concerns about the dispute and about the importance of stopping the financing of terrorism.

The Kremlin said Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke to both the Emir of Qatar and the King of Bahrain on Saturday and called for a diplomatic resolution to end the crisis.

"Vladimir Putin stressed the importance of political and diplomatic efforts aimed at overcoming the disagreements and normalizing the current complicated situation," the statement said.

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir called the coalition's list of demands "non-negotiable" last week.

Qatar's foreign minister, however, said the list had stipulations that couldn't be met and was "made to be rejected."

"There is no fear ... Qatar is prepared to face whatever consequences," Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani told reporters after a meeting with his Italian counterpart in Rome on Saturday.

Last week, Qatar's foreign minister Al-Thani met with US secretary of state Rex Tillerson in Washington.

Tillerson has repeatedly called for dialogue between countries on both sides of the diplomatic rift, advocating an evenhanded approach to the standoff.

Qatar is a US ally and the United States maintains a large military base there, home to some 11,000 personnel.

Foreign ministers from the Saudi-led bloc are scheduled to meet in Cairo on Wednesday to chalk out further moves.

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