Turkish Defense Minister Receives Qatari Counterpart

Agence France Presse (AFP) Andalou Associated Press (AP)03.07.2017 Qatar

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Qatar’s Minister of State for Defense Affairs Dr. Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah arrived in Ankara Friday on a two-day official visit.

During the visit, the Minister of State for Defense Affairs held a number of meetings with senior Turkish officials to discuss cooperation in defense and military fields between Qatar and Turkey.

Defense Ministry officials said Qatar’s Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah met with Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik in Ankara, but did not provide details, as the Gulf nation’s feud with four other major Arab states deepens amid a sweeping list of demands to Doha, including the closure of a Turkish military base there.

U.S. President Donald Trump, meanwhile, discussed ways to resolve the dispute in a telephone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the White House said.

Turkey is adamant to keep its base in the small Gulf Arab state and has sided with Qatar in the dispute, which saw Arab countries cut ties to Doha 0n 05 June 2017, accusing it of supporting terror groups. Qatar denies the accusation.

In a sign of support, Turkey shipped supplies to Doha to help ease its isolation and swiftly ratified military agreements with Qatar, allowing the deployment of soldiers to its base. A contingent of 23 troops departed for Doha mid-June, joining some 90 soldiers already there.

Erdogan has rejected the four Arab nations’ demand for an end to Turkish troop presence in Doha, calling it “disrespectful” and saying that Turkey would not seek permission from others over its defense cooperation agreements.

Turkey insists its troop deployment to Qatar aims to enhance regional security and is not aimed against any specific country.

The White House said Trump and Erdogan spoke about ways to overcome the crisis “while ensuring that all countries work to stop terrorist funding and to combat extremist ideology.”

“President Trump emphasized the importance of all our allies and partners increasing their efforts to fight terrorism and extremism in all its forms,” the White House statement added.

Other demands presented to Qatar by the four nations - Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain - include shuttering the Al-Jazeera news network and curbing diplomatic ties to Iran.

Erdogan has said the demand for Al-Jazeera’s shutdown is an attempt to strip the network of its press freedom and urged rights groups to denounce the call.

Qatar denies supporting extremism and considers the demands an attempt to undermine its sovereignty.

Meanwhile, the Chief-of-Staff of the Qatari Armed Forces Major General (Pilot) Ghanem bin Shaheen al-Ghanem held a telephone conversation with the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford.

The Directorate of Moral Guidance at the Ministry of Defense said that their discussions dealt with the strength of the Qatari-US relations in the defense field and ways to develop them. It added that they discussed Qatar’s role as an active member in the Operation Inherent Resolve as well as its active role in the international coalition against terrorism and extremism.

Photo: Turkey’s Defense Minister Fikri Isik, right, welcomes his Qatari counterpart Khalid Mohamed al-Attiyah at the Defense Ministry in Ankara on June 30, 2017. (© Turkish Defense Ministry)

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