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Macron backs Kuwaiti efforts to end blockade of Qatar

French president reiterates the need for reconciliation between Gulf countries as he meets Qatar's emir in Doha.

French President Emmanuel Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron has backed mediation efforts led by Kuwait to end a six-month blockade imposed on Qatar by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

"With regards to situation in the Gulf, I want to see a promise of reconciliation between its members, as I have said since the beginning of the crisis," he said on Thursday at a joint press conference in Doha with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.

The Saudi-led group of countries cut diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar on June 5 after accusing it of supporting "terrorism", allegations that Qatar strongly denies.

A key regional summit of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries was cut short on Tuesday after the head of states from the three blockading countries failed to turn up.

'Sovereignty above everything'

Qatar's emir reiterated the need for open talks between the parties to resolve the crisis, but said sovereignty was not subject to compromise.

"We need to sort out the problems but not at the expense of our dignity and our sovereignty," he said alongside the French leader.

"We cannot accept intervention in our internal affairs. Qatari people have the right to know the reasons behind the blockade and the violence."

Sheikh Tamim also said that Qatar has been committed to fighting terrorism.

The two countries also signed commercial contracts worth around 12bn euros ($14.15bn).

Qatar has agreed to buy 12 more Rafale fighter planes from French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation and will employ France's Suez to dredge and clean Qatar's lagoon. The Gulf country has also retained France's RATP and SNCF to build and operate a metro system in Doha, the Qatari capital.

"In total, it amounts to nearly 12 billion euros which was signed today and which underlines the closeness of our relations," Macron said.


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