Iran sends food to besieged Qatar

Iran has sent five planeloads of food to Qatar, which is suffering shortages amid a regional blockade.

A number of nations, including Iran’s major rival Saudi Arabia, last week cut ties with Qatar, accusing it of funding terrorism, charges it denies.

The land border with Saudi Arabia, through which 40% of Qatar’s food comes, has been closed.

Meanwhile, mediators Kuwait said that Qatar was ready to listen to the “qualms” of its neighbours.

A spokesman for Iran Air, Shahrokh Noushabadi, told the Agence France-Presse news agency on Sunday: “So far five planes carrying perishable food items such as fruit and vegetables have been sent to Qatar, each carrying around 90 tonnes of cargo, while another plane will be sent today.”

It is unclear whether the food is an aid delivery or a commercial transaction.

Noushabadi said deliveries would continue “as long as there is demand”.

AFP also quoted the Tasnim news agency as reporting that three ships with 350 tonnes of food were also set to leave for Qatar.

Iran has also opened its airspace to Qatari flights, following airspace closures by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Analysts say Qatar’s positive relations with Shia-led Iran – Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia’s arch-rival for influence in the region – were one of the causes of the latest rift, and the latest shipments are unlikely to ease the tension.

Kuwait has taken on the role of mediator, last week sending its emir to Saudi Arabia.

On Sunday, Kuwait’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah said Qatar was ready “to understand the reality of the qualms and concerns of their brothers and to heed the noble endeavours to enhance security and stability”.

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash tweeted: “Is this the beginning of wisdom and reasonable thinking? I hope so.”

Qatar separately said it would not retaliate with similar measures after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE last week ordered all Qatari citizens to leave within 14 days, reports the BBC.
Some 11,000 people from the three nations are believed to be in Qatar.

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