Qatar 'not prepared to change its foreign policy'

Foreign minister says Qatar has never experienced such hostility even from an enemy country.

    Qatar will never surrender to the pressure being applied by its Arab neighbours and won't change its independent foreign policy to resolve disputes that have put the region on edge, Qatar's foreign minister has told Al Jazeera.

    Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani made the remarks in Doha on Thursday, just days after Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and several other countries cut relations with Qatar.

    They accuse Qatar of supporting armed groups and their regional rival, Iran. Qatar says the charges are baseless.

    "We are not ready to surrender, and will never be ready to surrender, the independence of our foreign policy," Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman said.

    He also said Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani would not leave the country while it was "in blockade", and therefore could not attend an offered mediation by US President Donald Trump at the White House. 

    READ MORE: Qatar diplomatic crisis - All the latest updates

    Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting from Doha, said Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman was defiant and stressed that Qatar could live under embargo for ever.

    "He said Qatar has the backing of the international community and that they will manage to mitigate the consequences of this crisis," our correspondent said.

    Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman said that "measures had been taken by the Qatari government to ensure that the standards provided to the people will be maintained".

    He said Qatar had not yet been presented with a list of demands by the countries that cut off ties with the country on Monday, but he insisted it be solved by peaceful means.

    "There cannot ever be a military solution to this problem," he said.

    Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman further said that the contingent of Turkish troops set to deploy to Qatar was for the sake of the entire region's security.

    LNG gas agreements

    Meanwhile, Qatar will respect the LNG gas agreements it has made with the UAE despite its cutting off relations with Doha, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman said.

    He said Iran has told Qatar it is ready to help with securing food supplies and will designate three of its ports to Qatar, but the offer has not yet been accepted.

    Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman's comments came a day after a high-level UAE government official told AFP news agency that the unprecedented measures against Qatar aim to pressure the country into making drastic policy changes.

    READ MORE: Moves against Qatar 'violate human rights'

    Accusing the Qatari government of being in "denial", Anwar Gargash, UAE state minister for foreign affairs, said: "This is not about regime change - this is about change of policy, change of approach."

    The four Arab countries have suspended all flights to and from Doha and closed off sea and air links to Qatar.

    Saudi Arabia has also closed off Qatar's only land border.

    Analysts say the crisis is in part an extension of a pre-existing dispute which saw Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain temporarily recall their ambassadors from Doha in 2014 over Qatari support for the Muslim Brotherhood.

    Can the GCC still be relevant? – Inside Story

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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