Demand to shut down Al Jazeera TV dropped: UAE minister

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The Gulf countries blockading Qatar are to drop their demand that the Al Jazeera television network be shut down as they seek a compromise over the dispute that has ruptured relations across the region, media reports suggest.

In an interview published by The Times newspaper on Wednesday, Noura al-Kaabi, the UAE minister for the federal national council, reportedly said the Emirates sought “fundamental change and restructuring” of Al Jazeera rather than to shut it.

The United Arab Emirates backed away from threats to step up sanctions on the tiny Gulf nation, which was cut off diplomatically and economically by its neighbours last month.

“The staff at the channel can keep their jobs and Qatar can still fund a TV channel but not one which provides a platform for extremists and where the English channel is a protective shield for the much more radical Arabic one,” Kaabi told The Times.

She also said that the Saudi-led group was ready to negotiate with Qatar. “We need a diplomatic solution. We are not looking for an escalation.”

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The anti-Doha quartet had earlier issued a 13-point list of demands that included shutting down Al Jazeera Media Network, severing all ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and with other groups, including Hezbollah, Al Qaeda and ISIS, limiting Qatar’s ties with Iran and expelling Turkish troops stationed in the country.

The Guardian newspaper, in an editorial published last month, said the demand was “wrong”, “ridiculous” and “must be resisted”, joining the growing chorus of voices raising concerns about suppression of press freedom in the Gulf.

Published on 14 July 2017

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