Egypt ends visa-free travel for Qataris

Qatari nationals with Egyptian mothers, those married to Egyptians, and Qataris studying in Egypt will be exempt from having to apply for a visa

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (R) speaks with Kuwait's Foreign Minister Sabah Al-Khalid al-Sabah (C), in the presence of Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (L), in Cairo, Egypt July 17, 2017. Egyptian Presidency/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
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Egypt announced on Monday the end of visas on arrival for Qatari citizens.

The foreign ministry said that from Thursday, Qatari nationals - with some exceptions - will be required to apply for a visa to enter the country.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt imposed sanctions on Qatar on June 5, cutting diplomatic and transportation ties with the country over accusations it is financing terrorist and extremist groups. Doha denies those accusations.

"It does not make sense to keep making exceptions for Qatar and giving it privileges in light of its current positions," said Ahmed Abu Zeid, a foreign ministry spokesman.

He added that Qatari nationals with Egyptian mothers, spouses of Egyptians, and Qataris studying in Egypt will be exempt.

No action has yet been taken against Egyptians residing in Qatar, where more than 1.6 million foreign workers reside, and hundreds of thousands of them are Egyptians.

The decision came on Monday as Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry met his Kuwaiti counterpart Sheikh Sabah Al Khalid Al Sabah. Kuwait has been spearheading mediation efforts to end the crisis, now in its second month.

Mr Shoukry said Egypt stands by the list of demands the four boycotting countries made of Qatar.

"The foreign minister affirmed to his Kuwaiti counterpart Egypt's commitment to the list of demands presented to the state of Qatar and the continuation of sanctions taken against it," Mr Abu Zeid said earlier.

The insistence comes "in light of what the quartet states see as Qatar's stalling and procrastination, and lack of concern for the concerns of the four states", he said.

Mr Shoukry told Sheikh Al Sabah the only way the crisis would be resolved was if Qatar fulfilled the demands, which include curtailing its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, shutting down the pan-Arab Al Jazeera satellite TV channel, closing a Turkish military base and downgrading its relations with rival Iran.

The crisis is the region's worst since 1981, when the the Gulf Cooperation Council was formed.

* Additional reporting by Reuters