Gulf widens: 6 Arab states cut Qatar ties over terror

There are 7 lakh Indians in Qatar, and annual bilateral trade amounts to $18 billion.

Riyadh/New Delhi: Key Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt on Monday cut ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting extremism, in the biggest diplomatic crisis to hit the region in years.

Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen and the Maldives joined Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Libya in severing relations with gas-rich Qatar, with Riyadh accusing Doha of supporting groups, including some backed by Iran, “that aim to destabilise the region”.

Qatar reacted with fury, denying any support for extremists and accusing its Gulf neighbours of seeking to put the country under “guardianship”.

India will not be impacted by the crisis, foreign affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said on Monday. Gulf countries are home to 8 million Indians and vital to India’s energy supply.

“There is no challenge arising out of this for us. This is an internal matter of GCC (Gulf Coordination Council). Our only concern is about Indians there. We are trying to find out if any Indians are stuck there,” she told reporters.

There are about 700,000 Indians in Qatar. The size of the annual bilateral trade between two countries is $18bn.

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