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The Latest: US looks to ease Gulf crisis with Qatar deal

Posted July 11

— The Latest on the diplomatic crisis between Qatar and its Arab neighbors (all times local):

10 p.m.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sealed a deal Tuesday to intensify Qatar's counterterrorism efforts, tackling a central issue in the spat pitting the besieged Gulf nation against four other American allies lined up against it.

Tillerson outlined the agreement at the end of his first visit to Qatar since its neighbors moved to isolate it over grievances, including what they allege is its support for extremist groups.

It was his second stop on a shuttle-diplomacy circuit that will take him next to Saudi Arabia, which has shut Qatar's only land border and is the most powerful of the countries opposing it.

The centerpiece of the visit was the signing of a memorandum of understanding that lays out steps Qatar can take to bolster its fight against terrorism and address shortfalls in policing terrorism funding.

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7:45 p.m.

The Kuwaiti emir who is mediating the dispute between Qatar and four Arab states says he is "extremely concerned" about the crisis.

Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah was quoted Tuesday by the official Kuwait News Agency, which said he expressed "bitterness" over what he called "unprecedented developments" related to the crisis.

He says only the countries involved can solve the dispute, which pits Qatar against Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt.

The emir is a seasoned diplomat who served as minister of foreign affairs to Kuwait during some of the region's most troubling feuds, including the Gulf War in the 1990s and the Iraq War in 2003.

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5 p.m.

A Qatari envoy says the energy-rich nation will continue development projects in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, despite a rift with its Gulf neighbors stemming in part from its ties with the Islamic militant group.

Mohammed El-Amadi spoke Tuesday as he signed a new agreement with a Palestinian contractor to build eight residential buildings.

Qatar has been the largest single donor to Gaza over the past five years, disbursing about a half billion dollars for housing, reconstruction, infrastructure development, and health projects.

Saudi Arabia and its allies have pressed Qatar to end its support to the pan-Arab Muslim Brotherhood movement, the historical parent of the militant Hamas group.

Hamas seized control of Gaza from forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007.

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4:45 p.m.

The United States and Qatar have signed an agreement aimed at shoring up the Gulf nation's counterterrorism efforts.

The memorandum of understanding was signed Tuesday during a visit to the energy-rich country by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

He is in the Gulf on a mission aimed at ending a rift between Qatar and four Arab states that accuse it of supporting extremists. Qatar denies the allegation.

Senior Tillerson adviser R.C. Hammond says the deal outlines "future efforts Qatar can take to fortify its fight against terrorism and actively address terrorism funding issues."

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11 a.m.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has departed for Qatar as he tries to mediate a dispute between the energy-rich country and a quartet of Arab nations.

Tillerson left Kuwait City and was due to arrive in the Qatari capital, Doha, before noon on Tuesday.

He has held talks Kuwait's ruling emir, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, after arriving in Kuwait on Monday.

Sheikh Sabah has been acting as a mediator between Qatar and four states lined up against it: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.

The quartet broke off relations and cut air, sea and land routes to Qatar in early June. They accuse it of supporting extremist groups — something Qatar denies — and meddling in their affairs.

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