White House Downplays Tweets on Gulf Feud, Says U.S. Remains Committed to Arab Allies

The Trump administration remains committed to cooperation among Arab allies in the Middle East, spokespeople at the White House and the State Department said, following the series of tweets from President Donald Tramp, where he appeared to be siding with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states in their push to isolate Qatar, NPR reports.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt and several neighboring countries severed its diplomatic ties to Qatar on Monday, while also cutting off transportation links to the country.Qatar is regional headquarters for U.S. Central Command and home to some 10,000 American troops.

“The United States continues to be in close communication with all the parties to resolve the issues and restore cooperation, which is so important to regional security. The U.S. still wants to see this issue de-escalated and resolved immediately, in keeping with the principles that the president laid out in terms of defeating terror financing and extremism”, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Tuesday.

He acknowledged the longstanding tensions between Qatar and its Arab neighbors, who accuse the oil-rich nation of bankrolling extremist groups, including the al-Qaida affiliate in Syria. The Saudis and others also object to Qatar’s backing of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is seen as a threat to hereditary rulers in the region.

On Tuesday, Trump seemed to join in the finger-pointing as he tapped out a series of tweets.

“So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off”, Trump wrote. “They said they would take a hard line on funding extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism”, was one of his tweets

Spicer added that the President is eager to work with Qatari leadership as it cracks down on terror financing.

“The President had a very, very constructive conversation with the emir during his visit to Riyadh. His message of toughness on terror finance is being heeded by countries in the region”, Spicer said.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert also delivered a similar message,noting that Qatar’s effort to cut funding to terrorist groups is incomplete.

“We recognize that Qatar has made some great efforts to try to stop financing of terror groups, including prosecuting suspected financiers, freezing assets, and introducing stringent controls on its banking system. However, let me make this clear: They have made progress. But they still have work to do”, Nauert added.

On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also tried to calm the Arab feud, telling a news conference in Australia that it’s important for the Gulf countries to work together. Tillerson offered to help mediate in an escalating dispute between Qatar and its neighbors, but he downplayed the impact of the feud on American-led efforts to fight terrorism.

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