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Deadline Extended For Ultimatum On Qatar

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, left, and Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al Sabah, right, walk together on an airport tarmac in Kuwait. Qatar's foreign minister delivered a letter from his country's ruling emir amid a diplomatic crisis engulfing his nation.

Four Arab nations in a diplomatic showdown with Qatar agreed on Monday to extend a deadline for the Gulf state to meet a series of demands, including the shutting down of the Al-Jazeera news network.

Saudi Arabia and its allies – Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain – have issued a list of 13 demands, which also includes curbing ties with Iran and the closing of a Turkish base in Qatar. Qatar has called the demands an "affront to international law."

As the deadline was extended, Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammad bin Abdul Rahman al-Thani delivered a handwritten letter from the emir of Qatar to the emir of Kuwait, the country that has emerged as a mediator in the dispute that erupted last month. The nations arrayed against Qatar have cut off diplomatic ties and closed their airspace and land borders to the Gulf state. They have warned of further sanctions if their demands are not met.

While the substance of Qatar's letter was not immediately known, NPR's Jackie Northam, speaking earlier on All Things Considered Sunday, said "it does not look as though Qatar will concede."

However, Al-Jazeera writes that its reporter in Kuwait City, Saad al-Saeedi, says there was "a sense of relief, tinged with caution" after it was delivered in Kuwait City.

The BBC writes: "The imposed restrictions have caused turmoil in Qatar, an oil- and gas-rich nation dependent on imports to meet the basic needs of its population of 2.7 million. As a result, Iran and Turkey have been increasingly supplying it with food and other goods."

NPR's Greg Myre saysthat Saudi Arabia and other U.S. allies in the Gulf are "looking for the U.S. to help broker a solution."

Meanwhile, President Trump "spoke with Qatar's emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, as well as King Salman of Saudi Arabia and Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the crown prince of the Emirati capital, Abu Dhabi," according to the Associated Press.

The AP says that the White House "urged unity and reiterated the importance of stopping terrorist financing and discrediting extremist ideology. A separate statement carried on the official Qatar News Agency said the emir's discussion with Trump touched on the need to fight terrorism and extremism in all its forms and sources, and was a chance for the countries to review their bilateral strategic relations."

Update at 4:20 p.m. ET

Egypt's foreign ministry says U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry Monday evening to discuss the Qatari crisis. Egypt is hosting a meeting in Cairo scheduled for Wednesday with the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.
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