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Iran urges 'dialogue' to resolve Gulf row over Qatar

Zarif urged Qatar and neighbouring Gulf Arab countries to engage in dialogue [AFP]

Date of publication: 5 June, 2017

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Iran has urged Qatar and neighbouring Gulf Arab countries that have severed diplomatic ties to engage in dialogue to resolve their dispute.

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday urged Qatar and neighbouring Gulf Arab countries that have severed diplomatic ties with it to engage in dialogue to resolve their dispute.

"Neighbours are permanent; geography can't be changed. Coercion is never the solution. Dialogue is imperative, especially during blessed Ramadan," Zarif tweeted, referring to the Muslim month of fasting.

He has also phoned his counterparts in Turkey, Indonesia, Iraq and Oman to discuss the "latest regional developments".

Earlier, foreign ministry spokesperson Bahram Ghasemi also said in a statement that a solution to the differences between Qatar and its three Gulf neighbours "is only possible through political and peaceful methods and dialogue between the parties".

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, plus Egypt and Yemen, announced on Monday they were cutting all ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting extremism, in the biggest diplomatic crisis in the region for years.

Ghasemi said increased tension among its neighbours "is not to the benefit of any governments in the region and threatens the interests of all" at a time when the world was "suffering widespread terrorism and extremism".

Shia Iran has had no diplomatic ties with most of the mainly Sunni Gulf states since 2016, when Arab nations followed Saudi Arabia in severing relations after protesters torched its missions in the Islamic Republic when a respected Shia cleric was executed in Riyadh.

"Using sanctions in today's integrated world is inefficient, to be condemned and unacceptable," Ghasemi added. Qatar's neighbours have closed all land, sea and air links with it.

"Protecting the national sovereignty of independent governments, avoiding interference in their internal affairs and respecting recognised international borders are internationally recognised and fundamental rights which must be respected by all sides."

'Baseless claims'

Qatar has long denied any support of extremists, and accused its Gulf neighbours of seeking to put the country under their "guardianship".

In a statement published by Qatar's foreign ministry, authorities said the decision, which it claims was clearly pre-meditated, "is based on baseless fabricated claims".

"Qatar has been the target of a systematic incitement campaign that promoted outright lies, which indicates that there was a prior intent to harm the state," the statement said.

Doha reaffirmed its dedication to the Gulf Co-operation Council and said it respected the sovereignty of all other member states and has not interfered in their "internal affairs", as has been alleged.

"Qatar is also dedicated to its obligation in the war on terrorism and extremism. It is clear that the media campaign against Qatar has failed, especially in Gulf nations, which explains this escalation," it said, adding, "the fabrication" of a media crisis used to increase pressure against it is evidence that there are "no legitimate causes to take the decision to cut ties".

Qatar has been the target of a systematic incitement campaign that promoted outright lies.
- Foreign ministry

"The goal is clear, enforcing guardianship over our country which is a blatant violation of our sovereignty, which is completely unacceptable. The statement released by the three GCC nations makes it clear that the relentless fabricated media campaign against Qatar was pre-planned."

The escalation is likely to have wide-ranging consequences, not just for Qatar and its citizens but around the Middle East and for Western interests.

Monday's announcement came less than a month after US President Donald Trump visited Saudi Arabia to cement ties with Riyadh, where he called for a united front among Muslim countries against extremism.

It also followed weeks of rising tensions between Doha and its neighbours, including Qatari accusations of a concerted media campaign against the country and the alleged hacking of the Qatar News Agency.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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