Arab quartet says Qatar-US terror accord is 'insufficient'

#GulfTensions

Doha signs deal during visit by US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, as it faces Saudi claims it supports terrorism

Tillerson and Sheikh Tamim, the emir of Qatar (US embassy, Qatar)
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Wednesday 12 July 2017 8:40 UTC
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An agreement between Qatar and the United States on combating terror funding is "insufficient," the four Arab states that imposed sanctions on the emirate said in a joint statement Tuesday.

The memorandum of understanding announced in Doha during a visit by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is "the result of pressure and repeated calls over the past years by the four states and their partners upon Qatar to stop supporting terrorism," said Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

"This step is insufficient," said the statement carried by Saudi state news agency SPA, adding that the four states would "carefully monitor the seriousness of Qatari authorities in combating all forms of financing, supporting and harbouring terrorism."

The statement said commitments made by Qatari authorities "cannot be trusted," citing previous agreements that have allegedly not been honoured.

The United States and Qatar signed an agreement on combating terrorism and its financing on Tuesday during a visit to Doha by America's top diplomat.

"Qatar and the United States have signed a memorandum of understanding between the two countries outlining future efforts Qatar can take to fortify its fight against terrorism and actively address terrorism funding issues," said Tillerson's senior adviser, RC Hammond.

'We call on the countries imposing the siege against Qatar to join us as signatories' 

- Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, Qatari foreign minister

"This is a hopeful step forward," Hammond added.

The agreement was discussed at a news conference in Doha, attended by Tillerson and Qatar's foreign minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani.

"Today, Qatar is the first country to sign a memorandum of agreement with the US, and we call on the countries imposing the siege against Qatar to join us as signatories to this MOU," Sheikh Mohammed said.

He added that the signing was "not related to the recent crisis and the blockade imposed against Qatar".

Tillerson praised Qatar for committing to the effort "to track down and disable terror financing". 

"The US has one goal: to drive terrorism off the face of the Earth," he said.

"Together the United States and Qatar will do more to track down funding sources, will do more to collaborate and share information, and will do more to keep the region and our homeland safe."

Anti-Qatar coalition says sanctions still in place

The four Arab states leading the boycott of Qatar said on Tuesday that their sanctions on Doha would remain in place until it meets their demands and that they would keep a close eye on the tiny Gulf monarchy's efforts to fight terrorism funding.

In their joint statement released in state media, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain said they appreciated US efforts in fighting terrorism but that they would closely monitor Qatar's behaviour.

The four states imposed sanctions on Qatar last month, accusing it of financing militant groups and allying with the Gulf Arab states' arch-foe Iran, allegations Doha denies.

A Saudi Arabian-led quartet of four Arab powers has laid economic siege to Qatar since last month, saying the tiny Gulf state supports "terrorists" and spreads propaganda through the state-owned Al Jazeera media network.

Qatar denies the accusations.

A US-led coalition against the Islamic State (IS) group should not have member states that support terrorism, Egypt said on Tuesday in a coalition meeting held in Washington in reference to Qatar.

"It is unacceptable for the coalition to have amongst its members states that support terrorism or advocate for it in their media," said Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid, who is heading the Egyptian delegation in Washington.

"The decision by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain to boycott Qatar - a coalition member - is in accordance with that principle," he said in a statement.