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Qatar rebuts Bahrain destabilisation claim

Foreign ministry says 2011 phone recording pertains to Qatari mediation efforts made with approval of Bahrain officials.

Qatar has rejected accusations of attempting to undermine security in the neighbouring Arab Gulf state of Bahrain.

On Friday, Bahrain's official news agency BNA broadcast the recording of a 2011 phone call alleged to have taken place between Hamad bin Khalifa Al Attiyah, an adviser to Qatar's emir, and Hassan Ali Joma, a leader of Bahrain's opposition Shia al-Wefaq group.

The news agency accused Qatar of meddling in Bahrain's internal affairs with the aim of "overthrowing" the government.

In response, the Qatari foreign ministry said in a statement the phone call was part of Qatari efforts to mediate between Bahraini authorities and the opposition in the wake of the 2011 unrest there.

The statement said the contacts had been made "with the approval and knowledge of the authorities in Bahrain".

"The Qatari mediation has stopped after the decision of military intervention to disperse the protests and sit-ins," the statement said, referring to the decision to send Saudi-led forces to quell the protests.

The ministry described the broadcast of the phone call as a "naive attempt to twist the facts and take them out of context".

On June 5, five Arab countries - Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, Bahrain and Yemen - abruptly cut diplomatic relations with Qatar, accusing Qatar of "supporting terrorism".

Qatar, for its part, denied the accusations, calling the moves to isolate it diplomatically "unjustified".


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