Qatari FM meets Erdogan amid Gulf diplomatic rift

Doha, Sep 13 (IANS) Amid the Gulf diplomatic standoff, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, the media reported on Wednesday.

During the meeting, they discussed bilateral relations and means to strengthen and develop them, as well as topics of common interest, Xinhua reported.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposed a boycott on it in early June, accusing the tiny gas-rich country of supporting terrorism and seeking closer ties with Iran, a Saudi rival.

They initially gave Doha a list of 13 demands, including scaling back ties with Iran, shutting down the Al Jazeera network and ending Turkey’s military presence in the country.

Qatar has strongly denied the charges against it and refused to accept any of the demands.

Since the start of the crisis, Qatar and Turkey have come closer together, as the latter opened a new land trade route via Iran to Qatar and transported goods, including food products, to the boycotted country.

In July, Turkey sent a 25-member Turkish artillery unit to Qatar, adding to 150 troops already there.

In August, Turkey and Qatar carried out a joint military exercise called “Iron Shield”, which included training of leaders to assess and control the situation on the ground, as well as strengthening coordination between the two sides.

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