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Bob Corker: Saudi terrorism support 'dwarfs' Qatar's

Republican says Saudi crown prince may have made 'rookie mistake' over Qatar blockade, as diplomatic efforts continue.

Bob Corker, chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee

An influential US Republican senator has criticised the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, over a blockade on Qatar by the kingdom and three other Arab states.

The comments by Bob Corker, chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, came as tensions in the region continue over the crisis, with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson expected to make an unscheduled stop in Doha on Thursday.

"The amount of support for terrorism by Saudi Arabia dwarfs what Qatar is doing," Corker said on Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with Qatar on June 5 and imposed a land, air and sea blockade on the country.

The quartet accuse Qatar of funding "terrorism", an accusation Qatar rejects as "baseless".

Corker said he was "really disappointed to see what Saudi Arabia did after having a great summit and bringing everybody together", referring to May's Riyadh conference that saw leaders of the GCC and other Arab states meet with US President Donald Trump.

"I think this is quite possibly a rookie mistake by a crown prince who I think could be the future for Saudi Arabia," Corker added.


READ MORE: All the latest updates on the Qatar-Gulf crisis


The Tennessee senator made the comments while addressing the former US ambassador to Israel during a legislative committee hearing.

Corker has been among the blockade's strongest US critics, adding that the senator has threatened to block weapons sales to members of the GCC until there was a clear path for settling the dispute.

Tilllerson's Gulf visit

Corker's comments came as Tillerson wrapped up the third leg of his four-day trip to the Gulf aimed at helping solve the GCC crisis.

Having shuttled between Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia in an effort to help solve the GCC crisis, Tillerson is set to make an unexpected return to Doha on Thursday before returning to the US.

On Wednesday, Tillerson met the Saudi king, crown prince and his counterparts from the Saudi-led quartet.

The Jeddah visit followed meetings in Doha with the Qatari emir and foreign minister on Tuesday.

Tillerson told reporters that the Qatari government had "reasonable" views during the crisis.

"I think Qatar has been quite clear in its positions, and I think those have been very reasonable," he said.

Tillerson and the Qatari foreign minister also announced that the US and Qatar made an agreement on combating "terrorism" and its financing during the visit.

Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said the memorandum of understanding was not related to the current dispute.

But Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) called the agreement "insufficient" and the result of "repeated calls" from the Saudi-led group over the past few years.

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