TURKEY

President Erdoğan urges Gulf countries resolving Qatar crisis

PRESIDENT ERDOĞAN URGES GULF COUNTRIES RESOLVING QATAR CRISIS

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan urges Saudi Arabia to take leading role in resolving Gulf crisis with Qatar at AK Party group meeting on Tuesday.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan urged the king of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, to take a leading role in resolving the ongoing Gulf crisis with Qatar.

Last week, five Arab countries -- Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Yemen -- cut off ties with Qatar, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism.

Qatar, for its part, has denied the accusations, calling the moves to diplomatically isolate it as "unjustified".

In remarks made at the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party's parliamentary group meeting in Ankara on Tuesday, Erdoğan said the isolation of Qatar nation was neither Islamic nor humanitarian.

"Qatar along with Turkey is a country that took the most determined stand against the terrorist organization, Daesh," he said.

The president said it appears some countries have already decided to hand down the death penalty to Qatar and urged Saudi Arabia to reconsider the harsh steps against it.

"The king of Saudi Arabia, as leader of the Gulf, should solve this issue. I especially think that he should lead the way to resolving this crisis," Erdoğan said.

TRILATERAL TELECONFERENCE
He also asked the countries involved in the crisis to not work against each other. "Making Qatar look guilty has not benefited the region...Qatar should not be considered as just a wealthy country with treasures hidden underground.

"Qatar is also a country that maintains an independent stance," he said.

About the U.S. support for the PKK/PYD group and its armed wing YPG in the region, the president said: "Those who protect the PYD and the YPG are taking wrong steps through such a decision."

He also spoke about his phone diplomacy with Gulf leaders last week as part of his efforts to resolve the diplomatic row between Qatar and other countries.

"We will hold a trilateral teleconference with the French President and the Qatari Emir today," he said.

"This is a country that is facing a closure of its airspace. The [Gulf] countries were very close to each other, even though they had a relationship of affinity until yesterday. It [the ongoing crisis] is incredible," he added.

The president also criticized plans to hold a referendum to decide on the independence of Iraq's Kurdish region from Baghdad. "Taking a step towards the independence of Northern Iraq is a threat against Iraq's territorial integrity and is a false step," he said.

REFERENDUM IN NORTHERN IRAQ
Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) head Masoud Barzani said last week that a vote on independence from Iraq would be held on Sept. 25 -- a move the Turkish Foreign Ministry called a "grave mistake" on Friday.

Erdoğan said several issues in the region need to be resolved through consultation.

"Northern Iraq is not alone in this region. The Arabs in Mosul and Turkmen in Kirkuk are living together. We have always supported steps towards peace while maintaining the territorial integrity of Iraq. We have occasionally seen the loss of control there," he said.

The president also called for a new bylaw for the Turkish parliament that would improve its efficiency.

"The parliament should not be in recess until the ratification of this new law, and this issue should go away," Erdoğan said.

The Turkish parliament plans to go into recess prior to the Ramadan feast and would continue to be on hold until Sept. 12.

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