Qatar insists it will raise Gaza with Israel FM

Qatar insists it will raise Gaza with Israel FM

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"We are trying to see in which ways we can contribute to calming the situation in Gaza in particular," Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabr al-Thani told AFP.

"This, of course, will be our main preoccupation and the main issue we will discuss with Livni on Monday," he said after the opening of a democracy forum in Doha attended by the Israeli foreign minister.

"But I don’t want to put this in the context of a mediation," Sheikh Hamad said, when asked if Livni’s presence in Doha meant that Qatar was trying to mediate between Israel and the Islamist Hamas movement which controls the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip.

Asked if Qatar was trying to help broker a prisoner exchange involving Corporal Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier who was captured by Gaza militants last June, Sheikh Hamad said: "We will wait to see what she has to say … on this subject."

An online report in Israel said earlier this week that Livni is expected to push for the release of Shalit who was seized in a cross-border raid from the Gaza Strip by militants including Hamas members.

The Qatari premier, who doubles as foreign minister, reiterated that Qatar wants to see a peaceful settlement of Iran’s standoff with the West over its nuclear programme.

"Iran is a neighbour and is important to us. Stability is also important in the region and we are always keen on seeing any issue in the region resolved peacefully, especially with regard to Iran," he said.

Gas-rich Qatar, which hosts the headquarters of US Central Command, maintains relations with both Israel and its regional arch foe Iran.

The rare invitation extended to Livni to visit the Gulf sparked boycotts by other participants invited to the forum. "I have seven cancellations because of your arrival," the Qatari premier joked at the opening session.

 

 

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