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Saudi King cancels participation in G20 summit due to Gulf crisis

Written by Maritime First
  • As Qatar responds to Gulf neighbours’ demands

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Al-Saud will not attend the G20 summit due to the Gulf crisis, Saudi diplomatic sources said on Monday.

Instead of the king, the Minister of Finance Mohammed al-Jadaan will attend the summit, scheduled to take place in the northern German port city of Hamburg on Friday and Saturday.

The summit brings together leaders including U.S. President Donald Trump, Turkish President Recep Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In June, Saudi Arabia led its neighbours Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, in cutting ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism, a charge that Doha denies.

On June 24, the four Arab states handed the country a list of 13 demands, including some likely to infuriate Doha and exacerbate the region’s worst crisis in decades.

Some of the key demands include shut down the Al Jazeera media network and its affiliates, halt the development of a Turkish military base in the country and reduce diplomatic ties with Iran.

Others are cut ties to extremist organisations, stop interfering in the four countries’ affairs, stop the practice of giving Qatari nationality to citizens of the four countries.

Earlier, as the original deadline expired, Saudi-owned television Al Arabiya reported that Qatar could be hit by further sanctions.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt said they were “studying” a list of potential political and economic sanctions against Qatar after it rejected the list of demands.

In the meantime, Qatar has responded to a list of demands from Saudi Arabia and its allies after they agreed to give it another 48 hours to address their grievances.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain cut off ties with Qatar on 5 June, accusing it of supporting terrorism. On 22 June they issued a 13-point list of demands to end the standoff and gave Qatar 10 days to comply.

Details of the response were not immediately available, but a Gulf official told the news agency AFP that the Qatari foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, had delivered it during a short visit to Kuwait, which is acting as a mediator in the crisis.

Qatar has previously said the stiff demands – including closing the broadcast channel al-Jazeera and ejecting Turkish troops based in Qatar – are so draconian that they appeared designed to be rejected.

According to a joint statement on the Saudi state news agency SPA, the four countries agreed to a request by Kuwait to extend by 48 hours Sunday’s deadline for compliance. Foreign ministers from the four countries would meet in Cairo on Wednesday to discuss Qatar, Egypt said.

The blockading countries have not detailed any penalties to be imposed if their ultimatum is spurned, though UAE diplomats have suggested either suspending Qatar from the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC), the regional trading bloc, or seeking to impose sanctions on countries that continue to trade with Qatar.

The western-backed, six-member GCC was formed in 1981 – in the wake of Iran’s Islamic revolution and the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq war – by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain.

With Donald Trump speaking to both sides on Sunday and claiming there were interesting developments, the expectation has shifted to some form of concessions by Qatar, especially over the control of its overseas funding, but that in turn will require compromises by the Saudi-led coalition.

Additional report from Guardian

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Maritime First