White House Says Working to Resolve Arab Rift After Trump Boasts of Role in Qatar's Isolation

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U.S. President Donald Trump delivers a speech during Arab-Islamic-American Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 21, 2017.
U.S. President Donald Trump delivers a speech during Arab-Islamic-American Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 21, 2017. Credit: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The United States is communicating with all the parties in the Middle East "to resolve issues and restore cooperation" after several countries moved to break diplomatic ties with Qatar, a White House spokesman said on Tuesday, after President Donald Trump praised Middle East countries' actions against the American ally

"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," spokesman Sean Spicer told a news briefing.

Earlier in the day, U.S. President Donald Trump took sides in a deep rift in the Arab world. Trump wrote on Twitter that a recent trip he made 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. 

Qatar vehemently denies the accusations against it. 

"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. 

Even as Trump applauded the Arab countries' decision, the Pentagon on Tuesday renewed praise of Qatar for hosting U.S. forces and its "enduring commitment to regional security." 

Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis declined to answer a question about whether Qatar supported terrorism, saying: "I'm not the right person to ask that. I consider them a host to our very important base at al Udeid." 

Some 8,000 U.S. military personnel are stationed at al Udeid in Qatar, the largest U.S. air base in the Middle East and a staging ground for U.S.-led strikes on the Islamic State militant group that has seized parts of Syria and Iraq. 

Trump's tweet appeared at odds with comments from U.S. officials who had said on Monday that the United States would quietly try to calm the waters between Saudi Arabia and Qatar because Qatar is too important to U.S. military and diplomatic interests to be isolated.

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