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Turkey says it will not bow to Saudi-pressure and close Qatar military base

Doha and Ankara have again rejected demands from a Saudi-led quarter to close a Turkish military base on Qatari soil.

The joint statement came as Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani met his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara.

Both foreign ministers said they would not crumble to the pressures of the 13-point list of demands issuedby Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt to Qatar, one of which included the shuttering of the Turkish military base.

“No country has the right to raise the issue of the Turkish base or the military cooperation between Qatar and Turkey as long as this cooperation respects international law,” Thani told reporters in Ankara.

Cavusoglu said that conceding to the demand would “go against the two countries’ sovereignty.

“A third country has no right to say something to Qatar or Turkey. Everyone must respect this,” he added.

Turkey’s foreign minister said his country’s first military facility in the Gulf region had not been objected to before by the states currently blockading Qatar.

He also pointed out that a US air base – the largest in the region – had not caused any controversy among Gulf states.

Gulf states launched an economic and diplomatic blockade on Qatar last month, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism, supporting Arab dissidents and being too closely tied to Iran.

Qatar denies the charges and rejected a list of demands made by the Saudi-led alliance.

Turkey has backed Doha in the dispute and made a statement to the Gulf powers by sending more troops to the Qatari base.

But it has also been careful not to antagonise Gulf ally Saudi Arabia which appears to have spearheaded the campaign against Qatar.

As the crisis unfolded, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed to have also offered to build a military base in Saudi Arabia but received no word from Riyadh about the offer.

Erdogan has promised to visit the Gulf countries involved in the dispute, following US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s attempts to mend the rift.

Thani said that he believed that US and Kuwaiti mediation efforts would eventually “bear fruit” despite Tillerson returning to Washington empty-handed following his latest act of shuttle diplomacy in the Gulf.

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