As Tillerson calls for calm, Trump calls out Qatar on terror

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Kuwait has led a regional effort to mediate, but the four states intensified the pressure on Friday by placing dozens of people with alleged links to Qatar on terrorism blacklists.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain welcomed on Saturday Trump's demand for Qatar to stop supporting terrorism, but did not respond to the USA department of state call for them to ease pressure on the Gulf state. Only an hour later, Tillerson sat in the front row in the Rose Garden as Trump enthusiastically embraced the move by Saudi Arabia, Egypt and others to punish Qatar.

"The nation of Qatar, unfortunately, has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level", he said.

The Qatari government countered that the list "once again reinforces baseless allegations that hold no foundation in fact" and boasted: "We lead the region in attacking the roots of terrorism".

Many Barcelona fans opposed the club's ties with Qatar Airways with more than 60,000 people signing a petition a year ago for the club to cut links with the Gulf nation.

But authorities in the UAE and Bahrain have made praise for Qatar's government a criminal offence carrying possible jail time, and some Gulf citizens have anxious that the strong rhetoric on Qatar's foreign policy would divide their peoples.

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In a day of mixed messages and chaotic diplomacy, Mr Tillerson emphasised the economic, humanitarian and military damage he said the blockade was inflicting. "Families are being forcibly separated and children pulled out of school", he said.

And Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan - who has pledged food and troops to Qatar in the face of a blockade from its neighbours - hosted Bahrain's foreign minister and urged that the dispute be resolved by the end of the holy month of Ramadan. "The blockade is hindering USA military action in the region and the campaign against Isis [Islamic State in Iraq and Syria]". But at the Pentagon, a spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, said only long-term military planning was affected. Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar is home to more than 11,000 U.S. and coalition forces and an important base for the fight against Islamic State.

Senegal has said it would recall its ambassador in Qatar and expressed its "active solidarity".

Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have cut diplomatic ties Monday and are trying to blockade Qatar by air and sea.

Qatar, which has developed an assertive foreign policy over the past decade, denied that it supports militants and said it was helping to reduce the threat of terrorism by backing groups that fight poverty and seek political reform.

Tillerson demanded that Qatar, as well as the other countries, take steps to curtail support for terrorism.