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Saudi demands Qatar close Al-Jazeera

DUBAI, March 14, (AFP): Saudi Arabia demanded that Qatar shut down Al-Jazeera and two think tanks during a recent meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council, a source close to someone who attended the talks told AFP Friday. Riyadh demanded the closure of the pan-Arab broadcaster as well as the Brookings Doha Center and the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, the source said on condition of anonymity. After the reportedly heated March 5 GCC meeting, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates recalled their ambassadors from fellow member Qatar, which they accuse of interfering in their internal affairs and supporting the Muslim Brotherhood.

The source said Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al- Faisal had demanded three things of Doha — “to close the (Qatari-owned) Al-Jazeera network, which stirs sedition; close the research centres in Doha, and turn over all outlaws” on its territory. Doha’s foreign minister replied that the demand constituted “interference in Qatar’s internal affairs,” the same source said. Gulf officials do not usually comment on closed-door meetings. Qatar is seen as a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates across the region, which are banned in most Gulf states. Saudi Arabia and the other two states accused Doha of giving refuge to opposition figures and of even giving some of them citizenship.

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