Last Updated: 2018-02-13
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DOHA, Qatar, Feb 13 (NNN-QNA) - Sportspeople from around the world, irrespective of their political or national backgrounds, are welcome in Qatar, the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, said.

In an interview, the minister said, Saudi footballers are welcome to play in Qatar 2022 World Cup, and they are welcome always, even today.

Answering a question, he said, Qatar has not barred anyone from participating in sport activities in the country. With reference to Saudi Arabia, he said it was Riyadh that has ordered its citizens out of Qatar.

"We never politicise sports, education, culture or people's life. It is their decision, we cannot do anything with that. Everybody from the GCC region or the rest of the world is welcome in Doha. Welcome to play football or to play any type of sports or to study or to do business. No one is being sanctioned because of his ethnicity or because of his background."

Answering a query about Qatar's ties with Iran, he said, Doha wanted a peaceful neighbourhood. "We are sharing borders with Iran as we share borders with Saudi. We have differences with Iran and their policies, and we are sharing with them an LNG field…the largest natural gas field.

"The differences and conflicts between us and the region won’t be solved on the battlefield, they will be solved by dialogue."

To a question on allegations that Qatar supported terrorism, the foreign minister said, Washington recognises the partnership of Qatar in countering terrorism. "In fact, the recently held Strategic Dialogue said very clearly that Qatar was an important partner, in countering terrorism and the US recognised its role.

"There is no evidence for the terrorism accusation… they failed to support the charge with any evidence. In fact, Qatar is a front-runner, when it comes to the fight against terror."

Asked how long Qatar can hold on to a prolonged boycott by Saudi Arabia and its partners, the foreign minister said, "In Qatar we have no pressure. The main pressure for us is when we see our people suffering. This is the only pressure. Economically, there were some challenges in the beginning and then it is done, life is moving on, everything is (okay), our growth rate is one of the best in the region, we are moving ahead."

He went on to add, "The other aspects, if there are no provocations, no market manipulation as they are doing, trying to violate our skies or trying to provoke our people or incite against them, life will go on, nothing will affect it. But, this continuous provocation is just making the tension worse."-- NNN-QNA