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Arab countries in row with Qatar laud Trump

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Arab states that have laid virtual siege on Qatar praised US President Donald Trump on Saturday for enthusiastically supporting their stance when he called on the Gulf state to stop “the funding of terrorism.”

FILE -- In this May 21, 2017, file photo, President Donald Trump, right, holds a bilateral meeting with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Qatar's isolation and the political crisis engulfing the country stems from accusations by its Arab neighbors that it supports terrorism. Trump on Friday, June 9, 2017, firmly positioned himself with Arab states in their standoff against Qatar. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)Trump has aligned himself closely with Saudi Arabia and an allied bloc of Arab countries since taking office. His comments Friday firmly positioned Washington in the camp of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain, which severed ties with Qatar this week and accused it of sponsoring terrorism.

Speaking from the White House Rose Garden, Trump said Qatar “has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level.”

“The time had come to call on Qatar to end its funding – they have to end that funding – and its extremist ideology in terms of funding,” Trump said.

The row has sparked one of the worst political crises in decades among some of Washington’s closest Mideast allies.

Qatar denies it backs extremist groups and says the allegations are politically motivated and intended to tarnish the country’s image.

Qatar has ties with Iran and has supported Islamist groups, like the Muslim Brotherhood. Saudi Arabia, however, is locked in a regional power struggle with Iran. Gulf monarchies and Egypt’s government also view Islamist groups as a threat to their rule.

Qatar, however, is not entirely without support. Turkey has offered to provide food and medicine to help ease its isolation.

On Saturday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said his country hoped the rift between the “Muslim countries” would end “through peaceful dialogue before the religious holiday,” referring to Eid al-Fitr which marks the end of Ramadan. He was speaking as his Bahraini counterpart met with Turkey’s president in Ankara.

Explaining Turkey’s stake in the conflict, Cavusoglu said, “We see threats toward the Gulf region as threats toward us.”

Cavusoglu added that a 2014 agreement with Qatar to set up a Turkish military base there is designed to support the security of the entire region. (AP)