President Donald Trump has attacked Qatar for funding terrorism during a meeting with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis at the White House. Trump took credit for the recent decision by Arab nations to cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar.
Qatar has “historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level,” Trump said during a press conference in the White House Rose Garden.
“I decided, along with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, our great generals and military people, the time had come to call on Qatar to end its funding ‒ they have to end that funding ‒ and its extremist ideology.”
Trump credited his recent trip to the Middle East, where he worked to strengthen alliances and “united all civilized peoples in the fight against terrorism,” with the decision by Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen to sever diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing the country of backing terrorist groups.
“For Qatar, we want you back among the unity of responsible nations,” Trump said, calling on the Gulf nation to stop funding terrorism and teaching hate. “We ask Qatar and other nations in the region to do more, and do it faster… Hopefully it will be the beginning of the end of funding terrorism.”
Trump’s statement comes hours after Tillerson urged the Gulf Arab nations to ease their blockade of Qatar, citing humanitarian concerns and saying it may hinder the US-led campaign against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), and that the blockade caused unintended hardship to the people of Qatar.
“We ask that there be no further escalation by the parties in the region,” Tillerson said, calling for “calm and thoughtful dialogue with clear expectations” in order to resolve the crisis, endorsing a mediation proposal by the Emir of Kuwait.
Trump spoke with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi earlier on Friday, urging Gulf unity, but also making clear that Qatar must improve its behavior, a senior administration official told Reuters.
The two presidents “agreed on the importance of all countries implementing the agreements reached in Riyadh to fight terrorism, counter extremism, and stop the funding of terrorist groups,” the White House said in a statement.
Trump previously spoke with leaders in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar.