Qatari emir meets Merkel, Macron in 1st trip since crisis

BERLIN (AP) — Qatar’s ruling emir met German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday on his first trip abroad since a diplomatic crisis erupted between the tiny Gulf nation and its neighbors, and the German leader voiced “great concern” that no end to the conflict is in sight.

Merkel, addressing reporters alongside the emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, said she hoped dialogue could lead to “fair compromises.”

“It’s cause for great concern that after 100 days a solution to this conflict is still not in sight,” she said.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates cut ties with Qatar in June over its close relations with Iran and its alleged support for extremists.

Qatar denies supporting extremism, saying the crisis is politically motivated.

In Berlin, the emir reiterated that his country is open to negotiations with its neighbors, saying through a translator that “Qatar is prepared to take a seat at the table to solve this problem.”

He also said that fighting terrorism “is a big priority for us and we have to concentrate on the roots of terrorism.”

Germany has been supporting diplomatic efforts to try and defuse the crisis. Its foreign minister has said the country’s intelligence service would play a role in clearing up accusations that Qatar supports terrorist groups.

Following the meetings with Merkel, the emir went to Paris for talks with French President Emmanuel Macron. He left the Elysee palace without speaking to the press.

On the first stop, the emir met Thursday night in Ankara with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who’s been a major supporter of his country during the three-month-old conflict.

Turkey has shown solidarity with Doha by delivering food and other supplies and boosting military ties, including sending troops to a Turkish base there.

Among demands the Arab nations made of Qatar in June is for all Turkish troops in the country to be expelled. Other demands include limiting diplomatic ties to Iran, shutting down the state-funded Al-Jazeera satellite news network and other media outlets and severing ties to all “terrorist organizations,” including the Muslim Brotherhood and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

Qatar has rejected the demands as violations of its sovereignty.

In Ankara, the two leaders “stressed the need for a resolution through diplomatic means” to the crisis, according to Erdogan’s office.

“We support a resolution of the crisis through a brotherly manner and through dialogue,” Ibrahim Kalin, Erdogan’s spokesman, told reporters. “This crisis only serves the enemies of this region.”

But as the emir was in Ankara calling for dialogue, a Qatari exile held a conference in London that explored the possibility of a “bloodless coup” overthrowing the government in Doha.

The conference was organized by Khalid al-Hail. Analysts and experts have suggested al-Hail is supported by the Arab countries now boycotting Qatar, something he denies.

“We have a crisis, the government of Qatar has to admit it,” al-Hail said. “And I don’t believe the current regime in Qatar is acting for the good of my people.”


Associated Press writer Suzan Fraser in Ankara and Sylvie Corbet in Paris contributed.