Qatar rejects Arab states’ demands as deadline nears

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PV International Desk : Demands made of Qatar by four other Arab states were designed to be rejected, Doha’s foreign minister said on Saturday, explaining that their ultimatum was aimed not at tackling terrorism but at curtailing his country’s sovereignty.

However Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, speaking to reporters in Rome, added Doha was still ready to sit down and discuss the grievances raised by its Arab neighbours.

He was speaking ahead of a deadline set by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt for Doha to accept 13 demands. Officials say they are aimed at ending a rift that erupted last month over accusations that Qatar supports terrorism, charges it denies.

“This list of demands is made to be rejected. It’s not meant to be accepted or … to be negotiated,” Sheikh Mohammed said, adding that Qatar was willing to engage in further dialogue given “the proper conditions”.

The demands included severing ties with terrorist groups, closing down the pan-Arab Al Jazeera satellite channel, downgrading ties with arch-rival Iran and closing a Turkish air base in Qatar.