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Erdogan Arrives In Kuwait After Saudi Visit In Bid To End Crisis


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (left) meets with Saudi Arabia's King Salman on July 23.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has arrived in Kuwait, which is acting as a mediator in a regional dispute between Qatar and four other Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia.

Erdogan on July 23 held talks with Kuwaiti Emir Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah, the official Kuwaiti news agency Kuna reported, although it did not provide details.

Erdogan earlier in the day traveled to the Saudi city of Jeddah, where he met with King Salman to discuss ways to combat extremism and related financing, the official Saudi news agency SPA reported.

The Turkish leader is scheduled to visit Qatar on July 24 on the final stop of his two-day mission.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and other countries broke all diplomatic and commercial ties with Qatar over the Gulf nation’s alleged funding for Islamic extremists and its close ties to regional rival Iran.

Qatar denies the allegations but says it is ready for talks to resolve the crisis so long as the nation’s sovereignty is respected.

"No one has any interest in prolonging this crisis anymore," Erdogan said on July 23 before leaving on the trip.

He accused "enemies" of seeking to "fire up tensions between brothers" in the region.

Erdogan also said Riyadh -- as the "elder statesman in the Gulf region" -- has to play a "big role" in solving the crisis, although he was careful not to explicitly criticize the kingdom.

International attempts to resolve the crisis, including with U.S. involvement, have so far failed.

Since the crisis erupted in June, Turkey has sent troops to Qatar and continues to ship food to help the small Gulf nation.

Qatar holds strategic importance for Turkey, which established a military base in the oil-rich nation after a 2014 agreement. Ankara says as many as 1,000 soldiers could eventually be stationed there.

The two countries also are believed to support Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, seen by Gulf countries as a threat to their rule.

Qatar is home to the Al-Udeid forward base for U.S. Central Command, which oversees military operations in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Some 10,000 U.S. military personnel are stationed there.

Based on reporting by dpa and Reuters
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