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Tillerson says Gulf states have come up with list of demands for Qatar

Gulf diplomatic crisis
Gulf diplomatic crisis 05:42

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says that the Gulf countries that have enacted a blockade against Qatar have come up with a list of demands for the small Arab country to act on in order to ease the region's diplomatic rift. 

This follows the State Department's stance on Tuesday, pressing countries in the standoff with Qatar to publicly lay out detailed reasoning for the blockade, ostensibly over its backing of regional terrorism. The State Department is questioning the legitimacy of the blockade.

"We are mystified that the Gulf states have not released to the public, nor to the Qataris, the details about the claims that they are making toward Qatar," explained State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert on Tuesday. As time goes on without specific claims, Nauert said that "more doubt" emerges about the claims on the whole. The Qatar embassy in the U.S. tweeted out Nauert's statement.

"At this point, we are left with one simple question: Were the actions really about their concerns about Qatar's alleged support for terrorism, or were they about the long-simmering grievances between and among the GCC countries?" Nauert asked.

Now that this list has been prepared, Tillerson hopes it will be "reasonable and actionable." The list has not been made public.

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Since the dispute emerged over two weeks ago, Tillerson has been committed to working out the matter. President Trump appointed him to be the top U.S. diplomat on the issue. Mr. Trump has offered the White House as the venue for the parties to meet, though Tillerson has not yet taken him up on the offer.

Tillerson has had over 20 phone calls and in-person meetings with Gulf and other regional and international actors since the rift began. He cancelled his trip to Mexico for the Organization of American States meeting on Venezuela so that he could spend time focusing on "de-escalating tensions" among the Gulf states.

Now, the secretary is ready to see results.

"Let's finish this. Let's get this going," said Nauert. The State Department does not have its own list of demands for Qatar, regarding terrorism-related activity. U.S. diplomats simply want to see the "long-brewing tensions" resolved.

The UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash reportedly said that this is a "new state of affairs" and warned that "isolation can last years."

Meanwhile, Qatar says they will not come to the table to negotiate until the blockade is fully dropped. Qataris describe the blockade as a "publicity stunt" aimed at diminishing Qatar's influence in the region. 

"You cannot punish us for something without having a conversation about it," complained one Qatari official. 

And as Tillerson attempts to push the countries towards de-escalation, it's not clear how closely he will be heeded, given the difference between his rhetoric on the topic and Mr. Trump's. Earlier this month, the president tweeted that his trip to the region was "paying off" when the blockade was announced. He has also said that Qatar is "a funder of terrorism at a very high level" and used a White House press conference to call the blockade "hard but necessary." This transpired just hours after Tillerson called for an easing of the blockade.

The US still maintains an interest in preserving relationships with all of these countries -- especially Qatar, where over 10,000 US service members are based.  This was apparent last week when Defense Secretary James Mattis met with the Qatari Defense Minister to officially sign the U.S. sale of $12 billion worth of US 36 F-16 fighter jets. 

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