Saudis say Qatar demands are non-negotiable

Saudis say Qatar demands are non-negotiable
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Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Tuesday that a blockade on Qatar will remain in place unless officials meet non-negotiable demands from Gulf nations to end support of terrorism.

“We made our point, we took our steps and it’s up to the Qataris to amend their behavior, and, once they do, things will be worked out, but if they don’t they will remain isolated,” al-Jubeir told reporters at the Saudi Arabia Embassy in Washington. “We don’t have to deal with them.”

He also denied the idea that the Saudi-led blockade is “starving” Qatar citizens, insisting it is “not born in fact.”

“They have access to the world, it just costs them a little bit more.” he said.

Saudi Arabia, along with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar on June 5, issuing a blockade on the country after accusing it of supporting terrorist organizations and being too close to Iran.

Last week the countries delivered a 13-point list of demands to Qatar, which include calls to shut down a Turkish air base in the country, shutter the broadcasting network Al Jazeera and “downgrade” relations with Iran.

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Qatar was told it had 10 days to meet the countries' requests, making Sunday their deadline.

Asked if all of the demands are non-negotiable, al-Jubeir said, “Yes.”

Qatar denies the allegations and says the demands are not about fighting terrorism and are instead meant to limit the country’s sovereignty.

Al-Jubeir declined to discuss the call for Qatar to shutter the Turkish military base, a request that has puzzled officials as Turkey is a NATO ally of the U.S.

Asked what will happen if the demands are not fulfilled, al-Jubeir said, “We stay where we are. We’ve made our point, we’ve taken our positions. If Qatar wants to come back into the [Gulf Cooperation Council] fold they know what they have to do.”

Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyConnecticut senators call for Subway to ban open carry of firearms Democrats optimistic about chances of winning Senate Gridlock mires chances of police reform deal MORE (D-Conn.) told the Hill that the blockade is less about claims of terrorist support and more “ an internal political dispute in the region.”

“Let’s not lose track of the fact that the Saudi’s weren’t telling the truth when they started the blockade,” Murphy said Tuesday.

“When they began the blockade they said that their problems with Qatar were all about their support for extremism. When the list of demands came out we found out that what they really object to is the TV station and their relationship with Iran.”

Murphy added that such a division will not be resolved on its own and the United States must step up its efforts in mitigating the conflict.

“Qatar is not going stop running Al Jazeera. Qatar is not going to stop talking to the Iranians, and we need to help the Saudis understand that,” he said.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson – who has called the list of demands “very difficult” for Qatar to meet - on Tuesday was set to meet the Qatari Foreign Minister at the State Department. 

“Qatar has begun its careful review and consideration of a series of requests presented by Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and U.A.E.,” Tillerson said Sunday. “While some of the elements will be very difficult for Qatar to meet, there are significant areas which provide a basis for ongoing dialogue leading to resolution.”

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerCheney clashes with Trump Sessions-Tuberville Senate runoff heats up in Alabama GOP lawmakers stick to Trump amid new criticism MORE, (R.-Tenn.), meanwhile, on Monday said he intended to block future arms sales to all Gulf states involved in the dispute until there’s a “better understanding” of how the Qatar crisis will be resolved. 

When asked about the halt on arms sales Al Jubeir said: “I expect that wisdom will prevail and that Qatar will be responsive.”

“I think that Senator Corker’s statement was about finding a way forward on this,” al-Jubeir added.