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Passengers stand at Hamad International Airport

Passengers stand at Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar, June 7, 2017. (Photo: Naseem Zeitoon/Reuters)

Tensions build in feud between Qatar and its neighbors

A senior Emirati official insisted on Wednesday that Gulf Arab states were not seeking regime change in Doha, as tensions built in a bitter feud between Qatar and its neighbors.

Speaking to AFP in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates’ state minister for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash accused Qatar of being “the main champion of extremism and terrorism in the region”.

But he also said measures taken against Qatar this week by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other Arab nations were not aimed at seeking new leadership in Doha.

“This is not about regime change — this is about change of policy, change of approach,” Gargash said.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain announced on Monday they were cutting diplomatic ties and closing air, sea and land links with Qatar, giving Qataris within their borders two weeks to leave.

The four countries have suspended all flights to and from Qatar, pulled their ambassadors from Doha and ordered Qatari diplomats to leave.

Riyadh and its allies accuse Qatar of supporting extremist groups and of serving the interests of regional arch-rival Iran, claims Doha has strongly rejected.

The dispute has sparked the worst diplomatic crisis in the Arab world in years and raised fears it will cause further instability in an already-volatile region. (AFP)

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