The former deputy prime minister of Qatar has hit back at claims that the country is propping up terrorism in Iran, telling its neighboring Gulf states that they should point the finger closer to home.
Abdullah bin Hamad Al Attiyah, who served between 2007 and 2011, told CNBC Tuesday that Qatar had been willing to cut all "diplomatic, commercial, business, airline and transportation ties with Iran" on the proviso that Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt did also, but claimed that the offer had come up against resistance.
"Emirates (UAE) rejected it because today the biggest trade between Iran is (with the) Emirates – about 30-40 billion dirham a year ($8-10 billion)," Al Attiyah told CNBC at the World Petroleum Congress in Istanbul.
UAE is among a host of Arab nations to have imposed political and economic sanctions on Qatar due to claims that the tiny Gulf state is fostering terrorism and courting Iran.
"Don't believe that they (UAE) are focusing on Iran," Al Attiyah, who also served as energy minister, insisted. "If they are focusing on Iran they must cut full diplomatic relations with Iran, stop business with Iran."
"If you see the trade comparison, Qatar and Iran is nothing," Al Attiyah added.
International diplomats have been weighing in on the matter, hoping to strike a resolve. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is currently visiting the Persian Gulf in a bid to help settle the ongoing dispute between Qatar and its neighbours. He stopped first in Kuwait to speak to the Emir and Foreign Minister and is due to visit Qatar and Saudi Arabia later this week.
However, Qatar, which fervently rejects the allegations, has so far rejected demands tabled by its neighboring states and accused them of "clear aggression."