Home English News Arab countries extend Qatar deadline by 48 hours

Arab countries extend Qatar deadline by 48 hours

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Cairo – Four Arab countries have agreed to give Qatar 48 more hours, in a deadline extension proposed by Kuwait, for the Gulf emirate to comply with a list of demands, local media reported early Monday.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt agreed to extend the deadline after Kuwait’s government urged them to do so late Sunday, the Kuwait News Agency reported.

The Middle East News Agency also reported the deadline extension.

Earlier, as the original deadline expired, Saudi-owned television Al Arabiya reported that Qatar could be hit by further sanctions from the countries that have cut ties with the Gulf emirate over its alleged support for terrorism.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt were “studying” a list of potential political and economic sanctions against Qatar after it rejected the list of demands, Al Arabiya said.

One possible punishment would be suspending Qatar from the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a US-allied bloc, the Dubai-based broadcaster said.

The GCC comprises Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman.

Potential trade penalties against Qatar could be extended to include countries and companies dealing with the energy-rich emirate, Al Arabiya added without elaborating.

The foreign ministers of Egypt, the UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia will meet in Cairo on Wednesday to discuss “future steps” in dealing with Qatar, a spokesman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said late Sunday.

Last week, Qatar disclosed a list of 13 demands issued by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt. The demands were conveyed by Kuwait which is acting as a mediator in an attempt to defuse the ongoing dispute.

The demands include downgrading ties with Iran, a regional rival of Saudi Arabia; stopping support for Islamist groups; and shutting down the Doha-based broadcaster Al Jazeera and its channels.

Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani is due to deliver his country’s official reply on the demands to Kuwait’s Emir Sabah Al Ahmed on Monday, according to Al Arabiya.

There was no immediate confirmation from either Qatar or Kuwait.

Mohammed had earlier said the demands violated his country’s sovereignty, but called for dialogue.

Prior to the end of the ultimatum deadline, Bahrain called on Qatar to comply with the demands.

Bahraini Foreign Minister Khaled bin Ahmed Al Khalifa made the call during a phone conversation with his US counterpart Rex Tillerson on Sunday, Bahrain’s state-run news agency reported.

“It is important for Qatar to abide by the demands presented by the boycotting countries for stability of the region and elimination of terrorism,” the Bahraini official said, according to the agency.

Last month, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic ties and transportation links with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism, a charge that Doha denies.

Later, the four countries placed on terrorism lists 59 figures and 12 groups with alleged links to Qatar.

Doha has called the boycott a “siege” and “collective punishment.”

In 2014, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain temporarily withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar, accusing it of breaching a regional security pact.

That dispute was resolved through Kuwait’s mediation.

-dpa