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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres hailed Kuwait’s mediation efforts to defuse tension between Qatar and several other Gulf countries.

“The Secretary-General is encouraged by the statement by the foreign minister of Kuwait and other reports that the Gulf rift is close to a resolution,” Xinhua news agency quoted Stephane Dujarric, the UN chief’s spokesman, as saying on Friday.

“The Secretary-General welcomes the efforts and contributions of Kuwait in building bridges of understanding in the Gulf region and beyond,” the spokesman added.

Guterres expressed the hope that all countries involved in the dispute will work together to formally resolve their differences, and stressed the importance of Gulf unity for regional peace, security and development.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have imposed a diplomatic and economic blockade on Qatar since June 2017, alleging that the gas-rich Gulf country supports terrorism and interferes in their domestic affairs.

They have been asking for a list of demands which Qatar has to implement in order to revive ties.

Qatar has repeatedly denied the charges, calling it “unjustified” and “baseless”, and refused the demands, citing them as interference in its sovereignty.

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