TEHRAN: Iran is shipping more than 1,000 tons of fruits and vegetables to Qatar every day after Gulf countries led by Saudi Arabia cut relations with Doha, Fars news agency reported yesterday. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain are among several countries which announced on June 5 the suspension of all ties to Qatar over what they say is its support for extremist groups and its political proximity to Iran. Qatar denies the allegations.
Iran, an arch-rival of Saudi Arabia, began exporting food to Qatar days later as the unprecedented Gulf crisis left the isolated emirate without the land transport links it usually relies on to import food. Mohammad Mehdi Bonchari, director of ports in Iran’s Boushehr province, said Tehran was shipping 1,100 tons of food each day to Qatar, Fars reported. Iran has also flown food to the emirate. On June 11, Iran’s national airline told AFP that it had sent five planes of vegetables to Qatar.
On the same day Fars quoted the head of Iran’s cattle exporting association as saying 66 tons of beef had been exported to Qatar, with another 90 tons of beef expected to follow. Qatar’s air lines have been forced to re-route some of their flights to go over Iran to avoid the newly banned skies over Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Bahrain. That has increased traffic in Iranian air space by 17 percent, the official state news agency has reported.
Iran has urged Qatar and Gulf neighbors to engage in dialogue to resolve their dispute. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has called for a permanent mechanism in the Gulf to resolve crises like the blockade against Qatar.–AFP