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Sean Spicer Attempts to Walk Back Trump's anti-Qatar Tweets to Al Jazeera Reporter

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the United States is communicating with all the parties in the Middle East 'to resolve issues and restore cooperation'

White House spokesman Sean Spicer gives the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, on June 6, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMM
AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMM

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the United States is communicating with all the parties in the Middle East "to resolve issues and restore cooperation" over the Qatar dispute.

"The U.S. still wants to see this issue de-escalated and resolved immediately, in keeping with the principles that the president laid out in terms of defeating terror financing and extremism."

Spicer during a White House press conference Tuesday, in response to a question from Al Jazeera the Qatar funded news outlet at the center of the diplomatic crisis, tried to downplay the president’s Twitter rant against Qatar.

Sean Spicer responds to Al Jazeera on Trump tweets about Qatar Al Jazeera

"The president had a very, very constructive conversation with the emir during his visit in Riyadh. At that time he was very heartened by the emir’s commitment to formally joining the terrorist financing targeting centre and showing their commitment to this issue," Spicer said.

Spicer's comments come the same day Trump wrote on Twitter that his recent trip to the Middle East was "already paying off" and cast an anti-Islamist speech he made in Saudi Arabia as the inspiration for a decision by Arab powers to sever ties with Qatar in protest at what they say is the Gulf nation's support for terrorism.

"So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off. They said they would take a hard line on funding extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!" Trump wrote on Twitter.

Qatar vehemently denies the accusations.

Trump later spoke by phone with Saudi King Salman and stressed the need for Gulf unity, a senior White House official said.

"His (Trump's) message was that we need unity in the region to fight extremist ideology and terrorist financing. It's important that the Gulf be united for peace and security in the region," the senior official told Reuters.

Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber al-Sabah flew to Saudi Arabia for talks with King Salman bin Abdulaziz, Saudi and Kuwaiti state media reported, but gave no details on the discussions.

Russian President Vladimir Putin told Qatar's emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, in a phone call that crisis situations should be solved by political and diplomatic means, "in dialogue", the Kremlin said.

The rift has affected global oil prices, hit travel plans and sown confusion among businesses.

Saudi Arabia's central bank advised banks in the kingdom not to trade with Qatari banks in Qatari riyals, banking sources said.

Oil prices fell on concern that the rift would undermine efforts by OPEC to tighten output.