Four Arab states said their boycott of Qatar will continue after they refrained from slapping further sanctions on Doha but voiced disappointment at its “negative” response to their demands, Reuters reports.
Qatar earlier in the day accused Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt of “clear aggression” and said the accusations cited when they severed ties a month ago “were clearly designed to create anti-Qatar sentiment in the West”.
The four Arab nations accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism and allying with regional foe Iran, which Doha denies. Their foreign ministers met in Cairo on Wednesday after a deadline they gave Qatar to meet 13 demands expired.
They had been expected to consider further sanctions at the gathering but announced no new measures.
“The response the four states got was overall negative and lacked any content. We find it did not provide a basis for Qatar to retreat from its policies,” Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said, reading out a joint statement after the meeting.
“The political and economic boycott will continue until Qatar changes its policies for the better,” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told a news conference.
Qatar’s response to the demands has not been made public.
The United Arab Emirates’ minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, said in a tweet that Qatar faced “greater isolation, incremental measures and reputational damage” if it did not heed the demands.
“For any real discussion with Doha to gain traction, it has to be responsible for past actions and recognize the necessity of changing course. The message from Cairo is zero tolerance for terrorism, (a) powerful message from Arab world to the international community. Qatar can’t miss the bus,” Gargash said.
Shoukry later told an Egyptian privately owned broadcaster that the demands were non-negotiable.
“The matter from the beginning was not up for negotiations … there is no middle ground,” he told the On television channel.
The foreign ministers said they would meet again soon in the Bahraini capital, Manama, but gave no date.
The Arab countries have demanded Qatar curtail its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, shut down the pan-Arab al Jazeera satellite TV channel, close a Turkish military base and downgrade its relations with rival Iran.
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