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Boris Johnson calling for end to blockade of Qatar

The Foreign Secretary said Gulf country must “urgently” do more to address support for extremists.

Boris Johnson has urged four Gulf and Arab countries to ease their blockade on Qatar over its alleged support for extremist groups and close ties to Iran.

The Foreign Secretary also said Qatar must take seriously the concerns of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain and “urgently” do more to address support for extremists.

The four countries have cut off sea traffic to Qatar as part of severing diplomatic ties to the tiny, energy-rich nation. Qatar has begun shipping cargo through Oman to bypass the blockade and show it can survive the diplomatic row with its neighbours.

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Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani (Pavel Golovkin/AP)

Speaking after meeting Qatari foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Mr Johnson said: “I have been in touch with my counterparts across the region about the current tensions with Qatar.

“I have urged all sides to refrain from any further escalation and to engage in mediation efforts. In that regard I pay tribute to the work of the Emir of Kuwait.

“In finding a resolution, I call on Qatar to take seriously their neighbours’ concerns. Qatar is a partner of the UK in the fight against terrorism but they urgently need to do more to address support for extremist groups, building on the steps they have already taken to tackle funding to those groups.

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Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will hold talks with the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE (Victoria Jones/PA)

“I am also concerned by some of the strong actions which Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain have taken against an important partner, and urge them to ease the blockade on Qatar.

“I call on all states to take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation and to find a rapid resolution through mediation.”

Later this week, the Foreign Secretary will hold talks with the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, and urge them to ease tensions and enter mediation.

Mr Johnson will tell them a swift resolution is in the interests of the region and the UK, and express concern about the impact of the blockade on ordinary people in Qatar.

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