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FILE PHOTO: Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus attends an interview with Reuters in Ankara, Turkey, July 5, 2017. REUTERS/Umit Bektas/File Photo(reuters_tickers)
DOHA (Reuters) - A senior Turkish official in an interview broadcast on Wednesday called on Saudi Arabia to drop 13 demands it and other Arab states had made of Qatar, saying they represent an infringement on its sovereignty.
Speaking in an interview with the Qatar-based Al Jazeera channel ahead of a visit next week by President Tayyip Erdogan to the Gulf, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus also issued a veiled warning to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), saying that conflicts breed conflict and the outcome may be unpredictable.
Turkey has sided with Qatar in the crisis which began last month when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt imposed sanctions on Doha, accusing it of supporting terrorism, and demanded it accept 13 demands that include shutting down Al Jazeera and a Turkish army base in Qatar.
Qatar denies it supports terrorism and has rejected the demands but said it was ready to sit down and discuss the accusations.
"The president will listen to the parties but the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia must give up the plan which includes 13 demands and must reconsider it," Kurtulmus said, speaking through an interpreter.
"As for Qatar, it must take a positive stand that will open the way to stages of negotiations and Turkey can be a mediator ..."
The Turkish presidency said on Tuesday Erdogan plans to visit Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar on July 23-24 as part of efforts to resolve the crisis.
The emir of Kuwait and senior ministers from the United States, Britain, France and Germany have visited the area to try to resolve the crisis without success.
Kurtulmus said he believed the crisis was solvable and Erdogan will try to help.
"The UAE must show a stand that is in favour of peace and a settlement and this is in its interest too, otherwise every conflict breeds conflict and no one knows the outcome," he said.
Kurtulmus also said Turkey had no plans to shut its military base in Qatar, where a fresh contingent of troops arrived on Wednesday, saying it was not aimed against any of Qatar's neighbours.
He also said that Turkey and Qatar were planning to conduct military exercises in coming days and that U.S. forces may join in the manoeuvres.
(Reporting by Ali Abdelaty; Writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by James Dalgleish)