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Erdogan: Qatar Crisis Not In 'Anyone's Interest' As Gulf States' Tour Begins


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul on July 21, 2017

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has embarked on a two-day visit to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and ally Qatar amid a regional crisis, saying no country had an interest in prolonging the situation.

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.

Erdogan is scheduled to meet Saudi Arabia's King Salman on July 23 before heading to Kuwait, the country currently mediating in the crisis.

He is expected to finish his trip in Qatar on July 24.

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

Based on reporting by dpa and Reuters
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