Qatar says will not 'fuel a war' against Iran

Qatari Defence Minister Khalid bin Mohammad al-Attiyah speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue on June 3, 2018. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE (AFP) - Qatar will not be dragged into any conflict with Iran, a senior Qatari official said on Sunday (June 3).

Defence Minister Khalid bin Mohammad al-Attiyah told an international security conference in Singapore that even though the two nations had "a lot of differences", Doha would not "fuel a war" in the region.

"Is it wise to call the US and Israel to go and fight Iran? Iran is next door," he said.

"If any third party is trying to push the region or some country in the region to start a war with Iran, this will be very dangerous," he said.

His comments sparked speculation that he could have been referring to Saudi Arabia, which has led a year-long blockade against Qatar, accusing the emirate of financing terrorist groups and having close ties with Teheran.

Qatar rejects the charges and says the blockading countries - which also include the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt - are seeking regime change in Doha.

Responding to a question on whether Qatar's air bases could be used to launch air strikes against Iran, Mr Attiyah said the country was "not a fan of war", and called instead for engagement and dialogue.

"We should call Iran, put all the files on the table, and discuss to bring peace, (rather) than war," he told the Shangri-La Dialogue.

Qatar hosts the Al Udeid Air Base, the largest US base in the region, which is home to thousands of US personnel and a forward command centre.

The minister also called for the restoration of a 2015 agreement between world powers and Iran that lifted sanctions on Teheran in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme.

US President Donald Trump last month withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal and ordered the re-imposition of sanctions suspended under the accord.

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