January 25, 2018 / 12:42 PM / a year ago

Qatar says it seeks no escalation with UAE over military overflights

FILE PHOTO: Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani listens to a reporter's question alongside U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during a media availability after their meeting, in Doha, Qatar October 22, 2017. REUTERS/Alex Brandon/Pool

DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) - Qatar seeks no military escalation with the United Arab Emirates, its foreign minister told Reuters, following a renewed bout of verbal sparring between the two Gulf states over alleged military overflights.

Earlier this month Qatar accused UAE military planes of repeatedly violating its airspace, while Bahrain and the UAE said Qatari warplanes had harassed two civilian Emirati airliners.

The two sides denied each other’s accusations but have signalled they want to de-escalate the row, which comes at a time when relations between Qatar and its Gulf neighbours are very strained.

“Qatar will never provoke any country,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said in an interview during the World Economic Forum in Davos, in which he also said the rift between Doha and its Gulf neighbours was hampering regional security cooperation.

He said Qatar welcomed comments by a senior UAE military official this week that the military had received orders not to worsen the seven-month dispute with Doha.

“As far as we know, there is no intention about this military conflict. We have seen their announcement yesterday which we have welcomed. For us we don’t see any solution other than resorting to dialogue,” Sheikh Mohammed added.

Last June the UAE, along with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt, cut off travel and trade ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism and their arch-rival Iran.

Doha denies the charges and says the countries aim to curtail its sovereignty.

Reporting By Dmitry Zhdannikov and Yara Bayoumy; Writing by Noah Browning; Editing by Gareth Jones

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