Iran stands with Qatar against ‘unacceptable’ Gulf-imposed siege

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said a “siege” imposed on Qatar by four Arab states that recently cut ties with Doha is ‘unacceptable’.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said his country wants to bolster ties with Qatar, and rejected a Saudi-led blockade of the Gulf Arab emirate.

“Iran’s policy is to develop more and more its relations with Doha,” Rouhani said on Sunday in a phone conversation with the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, according to the presidency website.

“Tehran stands alongside the people and government of Qatar and we believe that… pressure, threats and sanctions are not a good solution to solve problems” between countries of the region, Rouhani added.

On 5 June, Saudi Arabia and allied states cut all ties with Qatar, closing its only land border, banning planes from their airspace and barring Qatari nationals from passing through their airports.

They accused Qatar of supporting and funding “terrorism” and working with regional rival Iran – charges Doha vehemently denies.

Iran, an arch-rival of Saudi Arabia, has stepped in by shipping tons of fruit and vegetables to Qatar.

“The siege of Qatar is unacceptable to us… The airspace, land and sea of our country will always be open to Qatar as a brotherly and neighboring country,” Rouhani said.

“Helping Qatar economically and developing ties, particularly in the private sectors of both countries, could be a common goal.”

Sheikh Tamim replied with the statement that “relations between Iran and Qatar have always been developing and powerful”.

The boycotting countries have issued 13 demands that they want Qatar to meet in return for an end to the nearly three-week-old diplomatic and trade “blockade”.

Doha denounced the demands, including the closure of al-Jazeera news channel and downgrading ties with Tehran, as unreasonable.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Sunday that some of the demands would be “very difficult” to meet, calling for a “lowering of rhetoric”.

“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,” Tillerson said in a statement.

“A productive next step would be for each of the countries to sit together and continue this conversation.”

The top US diplomat also said Washington was backing mediation efforts by Kuwait aimed at defusing the crisis and urged the different sides to “sit together” and continue discussing.