Qatar tells Gulf residents they are free to stay


Five Iranian planes filled with food have landed at Doha airport as the blockade against Qatar by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries starts to bite.

Morocco's foreign ministry issued a statement expressing the Kingdom's willingness to mediate in the crisis that has shaken the Gulf after Saudi Arabia and the UAE and their allies in the Arab World and beyond severed ties with Qatar, which they accuse of supporting terrorism and side-lining with Iran.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which have cut ties with Qatar, announced via state media on Sunday the creation of hotlines to help families with Qatari members.

"Following the sanctions. on Qatar, IranAir has so far transported food and vegetables to this country by four flights", Shahrokh Noushabadi, head of public relations at Iran's national airline, was quoted as saying by Fars news agency.

A previous mediation effort by Kuwait in which the Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah shuttled between Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Doha, failed to achieve an immediate breakthrough.

Trump accused Qatar of being a "high level" sponsor of terrorism, during a joint news conference with Romanian president Klaus Iohannis on Friday.

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Egypt's President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi praised USA president Donald Trump Saturday for his efforts on tackling terrorism and his role in "the formation of a united front to combat terrorism". Qatari leaders are "willing to hold dialogue" to end the crisis, he said.

Last week, six Arab countries -Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, eastern Libyan government, and Yemen- severed ties with Qatar and banned all air, land and sea transport with Doha.

Qatar's official overseer of charities denied on Sunday that philanthropic groups in the country backed terrorism, saying it deplored the accusation.

Senior officials from the countries opposed to Qatar have warned it that appealing for foreign assistance will not advance a reconciliation. Qatar says the allegations are based on lies.

"For potentially thousands of people across the Gulf, the effect of the steps imposed in the wake of this political dispute is suffering, heartbreak and fear", Amnesty International has said.

The decision will come as a relief to the more than 11,000 people from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain living in Qatar.