After Turkish president's visit to Gulf countries, Egypt's Sisi says he 'will not backtrack' on Qatar blockade
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday said his visit to the Gulf region made a contribution to easing the crisis surrounding Ankara's ally Qatar, but indicated that more time was needed to end the standoff.
Erdogan visited Saudi Arabia and Kuwait at the weekend before heading to Qatar earlier on Monday for talks with Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in a trip aimed at defusing the crisis.
Erdogan has voiced support for Kuwait's mediation efforts, a possible indication that Ankara sees the emirate as the key to resolving the crisis.
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On 5 June, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt cut ties with Qatar accusing it of backing extremism and fostering ties with their rival Iran.
Doha denies the claims and has been strongly backed by Ankara throughout the standoff.
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on Monday his government would keep up a blockade of Qatar in defiance of international calls to end the impasse.
"Egypt will stand by its decision and will not backtrack on this matter," Sisi said at a youth conference in Alexandria. "Our persistence on its own, our stance, and this block, is pressure in itself."
The crisis has put Turkey in a delicate position and Erdogan had hoped his visit would help ease a crisis which he had described as not being in "anyone's interest".
"I think that our visit and contacts [in the region] have been an important step on the way to rebuilding stability and mutual confidence," he told reporters at Ankara airport after returning from Qatar.
But he cautioned that rebuilding relations is harder than destroying them.
"And in relations between states this takes more time and trouble," he added.
Throughout the crisis Turkey has sought to balance its strategic alliance with Qatar with preserving its own relations with regional kingpin Saudi Arabia.
Crucially, Turkey is in the process of setting up a military base in Qatar, its only such outpost in the region. It has sped up the process since the crisis began and reportedly now has 150 troops at the base.
Erdogan said the base had come up in the talks in Doha and also praised what he said was Qatar's "positive attitude" in trying to solve the crisis.
Dismantling the Turkish base is on the list of 13 demands that the Riyadh and its allies presented as conditions to lift the blockade on Qatar. They also include closing down Qatar-based media outlets, namely Al Jazeera.
Earlier the Qatari state news agency QNA reported that Erdogan and Qatar's ruler al-Thani had discussed "joint efforts to fight terrorism and extremism... in all forms and sources of financing," and finding a "peaceful solution" to the crisis.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain added nine entities and nine individuals to their ban lists because of alleged links to Qatar over terrorism.
The new entrants on the ban lists include entities from Libya and Yemen and individuals from Qatar, Yemen and Kuwait who the Arab states say have direct and indirect links to Qatari authorities, the SPA reported.
The countries accused some of the individuals named with roles in raising funds to support Nusra Front militants and other militia groups in Syria, the SPA reported, while others were said to have contributed to and supported al-Qaeda.