Trump accuses Qatar of funding terror 'at a very high level'

A Qatari official had no immediate comment on the designations but said that Qatar adheres to United Nations Security Council resolutions on countering terrorism including eradicating sources of financing for terrorism.

Trump said Arab leaders he met with in Saudi Arabia last month had urged him to confront Qatar over its behavior.

"We had a decision to make, do we take the easy road or do we finally take a hard but necessary action".

Trump's demand that there be "no more funding" by Qatar for extremists groups contradicted the message delivered Friday by Tillerson, who had urged Qatar's neighbors to ease their blockade while calling for "calm and thoughtful dialogue".

Launching an extraordinary allegation against a key USA military partner, Trump derided what he called Qatar's "extremist ideology in terms of funding" terrorist groups, an accusation Qatar has repeatedly and vehemently denied.

Secretary Tillerson told reporters at the State Department shortly before Trump's remarks that this blockade is hindering the USA -led military campaign against ISIS, creating hardships for the people of Qatar and "impairing US and other worldwide business activities in the region".

The country's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Friday said that the attacks will add to the hatred that Iranians harbor toward the USA and Saudi Arabia.

Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain have accused Qatar of supporting terrorism and destabilizing the region because of its ties to their Shiite rival, Iran, and its support for groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. He says Qatar has a history of supporting violent groups.

Still, the Pentagon has been developing contingency plans in case there's any interruption, defense officials said.

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"While current operations from Al Udeid Air Base have not been hindered or curtailed, the evolving situation is hindering our ability to plan for longer-term military operations", said Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, according to the New York Times.

The gas-rich emirate is home to the largest U.S. airbase in the Middle East, making it a key ally in the US-led coalition against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. "Qatar remains critical for coalition air operations in the fight against ISIS and around the region".

Speaking in the Rose Garden, the president said Qatar had "historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level". He said families were being separated, children removed from school and Qataris forced to deal with food shortages. It follows a previous listing of scores of organizations in 2014 by Saudi Arabia and the UAE during a previous spat with Qatar.

"We believe these are unintended consequences, especially during this Holy Month of Ramadan, but they can be addressed immediately", he said.

"The time had come to call on Qatar to end its funding", Trump said.

Qatar has vowed to ride out the isolation imposed on it by fellow Arab states and said it would not compromise its sovereignty over foreign policy to resolve the region's biggest diplomatic crisis in years.

The blockade is also impeding USA and other global business activities in the region, Tillerson said, creating hardship for the people of Qatar and people whose livelihood depends on doing business with Qatar.

Tillerson, speaking at the State Department, said the USA would help support efforts to mediate the crisis, along with Kuwait - another Gulf country that has stepped up to try to broker a resolution.

  • Desiree Holland