Qatari emir meeting Angela Merkel in 1st trip abroad since crisis

German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Top News

Qatar’s ruling emir arrived in Germany on Friday on his first trip abroad since a diplomatic crisis erupted between his tiny Gulf nation and its neighbors. Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani was to meet in the morning in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel before flying to Paris for talks with French President Emmanuel Macron. On the first stop on his trip, the emir met Thursday night in Ankara with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who’s been a major supporter of his country during the three-month-old diplomatic rift that’s left Qatar isolated from its Gulf neighbors.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates cut ties with Qatar in June over its close relations with Iran and its alleged support for extremists. Qatar denies supporting extremism, saying the crisis is politically motivated. Germany has been supporting diplomatic efforts to try and defuse the crisis, and Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has said the country’s intelligence service would play a role in clearing up accusations that Qatar supports terrorist groups.

Turkey has been trying to mediate between Qatar and its neighbors, and has shown solidarity with Doha by delivering food and other supplies and boosting military ties, including sending troops to a Turkish base there. Among demands the Arab nations made of Qatar in June is for all Turkish troops in the country to be expelled. Other demands include limiting diplomatic ties to Iran, shutting down the state-funded Al-Jazeera satellite news network and other media outlets and severing ties to all “terrorist organizations,” including the Muslim Brotherhood and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

Qatar has rejected the demands as violations of its sovereignty. In Ankara, the two leaders “stressed the need for a resolution through diplomatic means” to the crisis, according to Erdogan’s office. “We support a resolution of the crisis through a brotherly manner and through dialogue,” Ibrahim Kalin, Erdogan’s spokesman, told reporters. “This crisis only serves the enemies of this region.” But as the emir was in Ankara calling for dialogue, a Qatari exile held a conference in London that explored in part a “bloodless coup” overthrowing Doha’s government.

The conference was organized by Khalid al-Hail. Analysts and experts have suggested al-Hail is being supported by the Arab countries now boycotting Qatar, something he denies. “We have a crisis, the government of Qatar has to admit it,” al-Hail said. “And I don’t believe the current regime in Qatar is acting for the good of my people.”

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