Turkey sends military assessment team to Qatar

AP — The Latest on developments related to the diplomatic crisis engulfing energy-rich Qatar (all times local):

5:45 p.m.

Turkey has sent a team of military experts to Qatar to evaluate troop deployments, as several Arab countries continue to isolate the small Persian Gulf country over allegations of supporting terror groups.

In a statement Tuesday, the Turkish military said the country sent a three-person team Monday to scout and coordinate preparations for deployment.

The military said such military visits have been ongoing since 2015. Turkey and Qatar have developed close ties over the years and reached agreement in 2014 to set up a Turkish military base there.

In a show of support for Qatar, the Turkish parliament and the president rapidly passed legislation for increased military cooperation last week, which foresees troop deployment and military training.

5:15 p.m.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister insists there’s no blockade on Qatar and says his country will provide food and medical supplies if needed.

Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Tuesday before a meeting with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that Qatar’s ports and airports are open. He says Saudi Arabia has merely denied Qatar use of its airspace, which he says is his country’s sovereign right.

Jubeir says Qatar can move goods in and out “whenever they want.” He says Saudi Arabia has allowed families to move between countries.

Still, Jubeir says Saudi Arabia is willing to provide food and medical supplies through the King Salman Center, a Saudi humanitarian agency.

Saudi Arabia has closed Qatar’s sole land border and joined other countries in cutting off sea traffic, leading panicked residents to stockpile food.

2:30 p.m.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin just days after Qatar’s foreign minister was in Moscow to discuss the crisis in Persian Gulf ties.

Saudi Arabia’s state news agency reported few details about the call on Tuesday, only saying the two leaders discussed bilateral relations and counterterrorism efforts.

Russia’s state-run Tass news agency says the two discussed “the growing tensions around Qatar.”

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar last week, accusing it backing terrorism and promoting policies that destabilize the region. Qatar has denied the allegations.

Over the weekend, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani was in Moscow following a telephone call between Putin and Qatar’s ruling emir Sheikh Tamin bin Hamad Al Thani.

1:50 p.m.

Turkey’s president has criticized the effort by several Arab countries to isolate Qatar over allegations of sponsoring militant groups, comparing the move to a “death penalty” for the small Persian Gulf country.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated his country’s position to support Qatar and diplomatic engagement to help end the crisis in a speech to party members on Tuesday.

He said that Qatar has “practically been sentenced to the death penalty” and added that “it is neither humane nor Islamic to attempt to isolate a country’s people in every area from food, to drink, to travel, to commerce, to worship.”

Erdogan called on the king of Saudi Arabia, one of the Arab and Muslim countries that severed ties with Qatar, to resolve the crisis.

10:50 a.m.

A state-owned newspaper in the United Arab Emirates is saying that a fake website attempted to impersonate it and publish fake comments attributed to Abu Dhabi’s powerful crown prince.

Al-Ittihad newspaper’s editor-in-chief Mohammed al-Hammadi told The National newspaper of Abu Dhabi in an article published on Tuesday that the fake comments had Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nayhan disparaging Kuwait and Oman for having “double standards.”

Kuwait has tried to mediate in the crisis between Qatar and other Arab nations over Doha’s alleged support of Islamists and its ties to Iran. Oman has stayed out of the conflict.

Officials in Doha say an alleged hack of the state-run Qatar News Agency in late May saw controversial comments attributed to its ruling emir published. That helped spark the crisis, which began June 5 when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic ties and started trying to isolate Qatar from the rest of the world.

8:45 a.m.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has expressed hopes for a swift resolution of the crisis engulfing the energy-rich nation of Qatar.

Sharif’s office issued a statement on Tuesday, following his return from Saudi Arabia. It quotes the prime minister as saying he hopes the dispute between Qatar and its Arab neighbors will be resolved soon.

It says Sharif’s visit reaffirmed Pakistan’s strong commitment for Saudi Arabia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, and quotes King Salman as saying the joint fight against terrorism is in the interest of all Muslims countries.

Pakistan has close ties with the kingdom but also business ventures in Qatar.

Saudi Arabia and its allies severed diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar earlier this month, after accusing it of supporting terrorist groups, a charge denied by Doha.