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AA 03/07/17: Turkey says no link between Qatar base and Gulf crisis

Deputy Premier Numan Kurtulmus says base will ensure security of entire Gulf region.

It is wrong to link the issue of Turkey’s base in Qatar with the ongoing crisis in the Gulf, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said on Monday.

Qatar has been reeling under a blockade imposed last month by Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen, who accuse Doha of interfering in their domestic affairs and supporting terror groups.

The Qatari government has strongly rejected the accusations and termed the blockade a violation of international law.

Turkey has vowed to stand by Qatar and called on Saudi Arabia to end all sanctions.

Last month, Turkey’s parliament ratified two deals on deploying troops to Qatar and training its army.

Speaking to reporters following a Cabinet meeting in Ankara, Kurtulmus said: “Linking the [Gulf] crisis with the Turkish base is wrong. The tension and dispute between the Gulf countries is completely irrelevant [to the base].

“Turkey’s military base in Qatar is not just for Qatar’s security, but for the security of the whole [Gulf] area. Turkey has a base there as part of the area’s safety. The presence of Turkish soldiers will remain.”

The deputy premier also said the crisis could also hit other countries if steps were not taken to resolve it.

“Associating the political crisis with Saudi Arabia-Qatar crisis is wrong. If this gets deeper, the toll of the crisis will take on all of the countries in the area, one way or the other.”

About the Cyprus unification talks, he said: “Turkey will not take a step back before the Turkish people are secured. The matter of maps and soil could be handled within the scope of Turkey’s approach to guarantee and security.”

The UN is seeking a peace deal to unite Cyprus under a federal umbrella, which could also define the future of Europe’s relations with Turkey, a key player in the conflict.

The eastern Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974, when a Greek Cypriot coup was followed by violence against the island’s Turks, and Ankara's intervention as a guarantor power.

“Turkey will not change its position,” Kurtulmus added.

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