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Egypt to deny Qataris visa-free entry

18 July 2017 17:03


Egypt, which has joined a Saudi-led bloc of states in boycotting Qatar, says it will end a visa-free regime with the country and will continue to require that Doha meet the 13 demands the bloc has given it.

“It does not make sense to keep making exceptions for Qatar and giving it privileges in light of its current positions,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid, referring to the visa-free regime that has been in place.

Though a new visa regime will accord exceptions to Qatari nationals with Egyptian mothers, those married to Egyptians, and Qataris studying in Egypt, it will mark the latest measure by the bloc to pile up pressure on Doha.

The bloc, consisting of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates, severed diplomatic ties and cut all land, sea, and air routes with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of supporting terrorism — allegations denied by Doha.

They later issued the 13-point list of demands for Doha to meet in order for the relations to be restored. Among them was that Qatar end its support for Egypt’s biggest banned opposition party Muslim Brotherhood, close a Turkish military base on its soil, limit its ties with Iran, and “compensate” the sanctioning countries for unspecified harm.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry also told his Kuwaiti counterpart during a meeting in Cairo on Monday that Egypt was standing by the list of demands and would keep the sanctions against Doha in place. Kuwait has been leading mediation efforts between Qatar and the quartet.

“The Foreign Minister affirmed to his Kuwaiti counterpart Egypt’s commitment to the list of demands presented to the state of Qatar and the continuation of sanctions taken against it,” Abu Zeid said in a statement.

The insistence comes “in light of what the quartet states see as Qatar’s stalling and procrastination, and lack of concern for the concerns of the four states,” he said.

Doha has refused to meet any of the demands.

Doha stands ground

Meanwhile, Qatar’s Defense Minister Khalid bin Mohammad al-Attiyah, in an exclusive interview with Turkey’s TRT World network, reaffirmed Doha’s rejection of the four countries’ accusations and offered some clarification concerning the diplomatic crisis.

All the accusations leveled against Qatar were false, he said.

He also referred to the demand to close down the Turkish base in Qatar and said no one could ask Doha to carry out such a task. “This is considered relation between two sovereign countries,” al-Attiyah said.

The Qatari defense minister also hinted that Qatar could refer to the International Court of Justice to get compensation for the damages it faced because of the siege.

Asked about Qatar’s relations with the US, he said that the ties were strong, historic, and strategic.

The US, Turkey, and Iran have all urged that the Arab states resort to dialog to resolve their differences.

Concerning the demand that Doha limit its ties with Tehran, al-Attiyah said, “When it comes to the relation between us and Iran, if we look around us, the neighbors, who boycotted us, who besieged Qatar, they have way farther relation with Iran than Qatar does. If you come to the trade, they have billions of billions of dollars [of trade] with Iran.”

“So, the matter at the end of the day is not having relation with Iran or not because they [themselves] have better relations with Iran,” he added.

“But in this crisis, Iran did reach out for us, especially concerning food supplies, and this is the only way we have,” he said. The Islamic Republic has been shipping foodstuffs to Qatar following the introduction of the blockade based on humanitarian grounds.

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