Bahrain calls for freezing Qatar out of GCC

Bahrain's Minister of Foreign Affairs Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 23, 2017. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz - RC19234D1FF0

DUBAI (Reuters) - Bahrain will not attend December’s summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council if Qatar does not change its policies and Qatar should have its membership in the six-nation group suspended, Bahrain’s foreign minister said.

Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt cut diplomatic, transport and trade ties with Qatar in June, accusing it of financing terrorism. Doha denies the charges and says the boycott is an attempt to impinge on its sovereignty and rein in its support for reform.

“If the situation remains as it is we won’t attend this summit,” Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa said on Twitter, referring to the GCC meeting in Kuwait.

“The right step to preserve the GCC is to freeze Qatar’s membership in the council,” he said.

Founded as a bulwark against neighbours Iraq and Iran, the Western-backed GCC is a loose association of the six Gulf Arab countries.

“Qatar has pursued policies aimed at the security of member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council ... Qatar has proved that it does not respect the charters, treaties and ties established by the GCC,” Saudi state TV channel quoted Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa as saying on Monday.

Bahrain believes Qatar is fomenting unrest in the island kingdom by supporting protests and even sporadic shooting and bombing attacks aimed at security forces.

In an interview with U.S. broadcaster CBS News broadcast on Sunday, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani said he wanted an end to the dispute and warned against any military escalation.

Reporting Mostafa Hashem, writing Nayera Abdallah; Editing by Janet Lawrence