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'Extremely well': Trump hails ties with Qatar after meeting emir

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani thanks US for 'supporting' Qatar during the Saudi-led blockade
Al-Thani says the region cannot tolerate "a war criminal" like Syria's Assad (Reuters)

US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that ties with Qatar were working "extremely well" as he welcomed Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani to the White House for bilateral talks.

Al Thani told reporters the region could not tolerate "a war criminal" like Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Trump praised the Qatari leader in the Oval Office.

"We have a gentleman, on my right, who buys a lot of equipment from us, a lot of purchases in the United States, and a lot of military airplanes, missiles - lots of different things," Trump said of Thani.

On Wednesday, the US State Department approved a $300m guided missile sale to Qatar.

Trump suggested that Washington is working to end the feud between Qatar and its Arab neighbours.

"We are working on unity in that part of the Middle East and I think it's working out very well; there are lot of good things happening," the US president said.

Saudi Arabia and its regional allies, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, launched a diplomatic and trade boycott against Doha last year, and Trump initially appeared to take Riyadh's side.

Saudi and Emirati officials have accused Thani's government of cosying up to Iran and funding militant groups. Qatar denies the allegations.

Shortly after the crisis began, Trump appeared to take responsibility for the sanctions against Qatar.

In June 2017, he accused Doha of funding terrorism "at a very high level".

But the US president has since softened his tone against Doha and praised its counter-terrorism efforts. The administration is looking to organise a summit for Gulf leaders to end the impasse.

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On Tuesday, Thani praised Trump's role as "vital" in the Middle East.

"I would like to thank the president for him being involved personally in solving the GCC crisis," the Qatari emir said.

"He's been very helpful, he's been supporting us during this blockade and I would also like to thank the American people for being very supportive."

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