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French leader Macron urges Gulf heads to defuse crisis

French President Emmanuel Macron (2ndR), French Minister of Ecological and Social Transition Nicolas Hulot (2ndL), Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian (R) and Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation Frederique Vidal (L). Reuters

French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday urged the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Iran and Qatar to engage in dialogue and defuse the crisis which has pitted Doha against its Gulf neighbours.

Macron spoke separately with Qatari ruler Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Saudi King Salman and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and "invited all parties to pursue dialogue," Macron's office said.

Saudi Arabia and allies including the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt on Monday cut diplomatic ties with fellow Gulf Cooperation Council member Qatar over claims that Doha supports extremism.
Qatar strongly denies the allegations.

The Saudi-led alliance has imposed an economic blockade on Qatar and called on the small gas-rich state to change its policies and to halt its alleged support to extremist groups including the Muslim Brotherhood and the Palestinian Hamas movement.

Macron on Wednesday assured the Gulf leaders he spoke with of "his wish to maintain stability in the region" and to keep up the fight "against terrorism and the financing of all terrorist movements".

The French president had already talked with the Qatari emir on Tuesday, as well as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who backs Doha, and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

A presidency spokesman said Macron would continue his mediation in coming days.

During his discussion with Iranian leader Rouhani on Wednesday, Macron offered his condolences to the families of the 13 people killed by gunmen and suicide bombers in Tehran earlier Wednesday, the first attack in Iran by the Islamic State group.