June 12, 2017 / 5:28 PM / 2 months ago

UPDATE 1-Qatar backs Kuwait mediation efforts over rift with Arab states

(Recasts with details, background)

By John Irish

PARIS, June 12 (Reuters) - Qatar supports Kuwait's efforts to end a rift with Saudi Arabia and other Arab states, its foreign minister said on Monday, but the emirate remains puzzled over why "abusive measures" had been imposed on it.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic and transport ties a week ago, accusing Doha of backing terrorism.

"Kuwait's foreign minister is making efforts to mediate between our countries. We support this effort and our choice is resolve this through dialogue," Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani told reporters in Paris after meeting his French counterpart.

"But there are other problems that need to solved and it seems that they are trying to destroy Qatar. That doesn't seem to be very timely."

Speaking amid a tour of European capitals to gauge support among Doha's traditional allies, Sheikh Mohammed said there was "no proof" to accusations that his country financed terrorist groups, supported the Muslim Brotherhood and the Palestinian group Hamas and had close ties with Iran.

"We still have no clue what is behind these measures," he said. "Whatever is related to the collective security of the Gulf countries, Qatar is ready to negotiate ... but we have the right to react to these accusations that we are interfering in their internal affairs.

"Our foreign policy is subject to the sovereignty of our country and is based on our own assessment and our own principles."

The campaign to isolate Qatar is disrupting trade in commodities from crude oil to metals and food. It also raises the prospect of a shock to the global gas market, where the Gulf state is a major participant.

The Arab states have also accused Doha of undermining other Arab countries and the Palestinian Authority with its backing of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.

Sheikh Mohammed said the allegations on the Muslim Brotherhood were "false" and that it did not understand why it needed to cut ties with Hamas, since it was a resistance movement and not a terrorist group.

He said European countries, including France, were trying to ease tensions in support of Kuwait's mediation efforts, and he believed that the United States, which was also backing mediation, wanted restrictions on Doha to be lifted.

"We in Qatar are prepared to engage in dialogue positively, but in accordance with the international norms and standards that govern any dialogue as per international law," Sheikh Mohammed said. (Reporting by Jojn Irish; Editing by Larry King)

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