The United States on Tuesday said the President Donald Trump administration has signed an agreement with Qatar on measures the isolated Gulf nation can take to curb the funding of militancy. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s adviser RC Hammond made the statement in Doha after Tillerson spent the day mediating in Qatar’s standoff with its neighbours.
Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said the deal was “not related to the recent crisis and the blockade imposed against Qatar”, Al Jazeera reported. Addressing a joint press conference after the meeting with his Qatari counterpart, Tillerson said the deal was a result of weeks of “intensive discussions between experts and reinvigorates the spirit of the Riyadh summit”.
Hammond said the deal outlines “future efforts Qatar can take to fortify its fight against terrorism and actively address terrorism funding issues”. The Trump administration is concerned that the isolation of Qatar could affect its military operations at the United States’ Al Udeid Air Base. The US fears the embargo could lead to Qatar aligning with Iran, The Washington Post reported.
“I am hopeful we can make some progress to begin to bring this to a point of resolution,” the US statement said. “I think Qatar has been quite clear in its positions, and I think those have been very reasonable.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Tillerson, who has been shuttling between the disputing Gulf nations, said that the demands put forth by Saudi Arabia and its allies for restoring diplomatic relations with Qatar are “unrealistic”.
The diplomatic standoff
On June 5, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt had severed diplomatic relations with Qatar accusing it of backing terrorism. Other countries in the region had followed. The US President had praised Saudi’s move to isolate Qatar.
The list presented to Qatar by the Arab countries demanded that it cut ties with Iran, hand over extremists and shut down Al Jazeera. It also demanded compensation and called for an end to Turkey’s military presence in Qatar, among other things.