ANKARA Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday denounced the isolation of Qatar as "inhumane and against Islamic values", and said the methods used against the Gulf state were unacceptable, and analogous to a "death penalty".
Erdogan's defence of Qatar, in a parliamentary speech to members of his ruling AK Party, comes after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt severed relations with Doha last week, accusing it of supporting Islamist militants and Iran - allegations it says are baseless.
"A very grave mistake is being made in Qatar, isolating a nation in all areas is inhumane and against Islamic values. It's as if a death penalty decision has been taken for Qatar," Erdogan said.
"Qatar has shown the most decisive stance against the terrorist organisation Islamic State alongside Turkey. Victimising Qatar through smear campaigns serves no purpose."
Erdogan also said he would hold a conference call on Tuesday with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and the Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani to discuss recent developments.
He said the Saudi King, as the elder statesman in the Gulf region, should take the lead to resolve the crisis.
Erdogan is also due to discuss the dispute with U.S. President Donald Trump in coming days, Turkey's foreign minister said earlier on Tuesday. The Turkish president has vowed to keep supporting Qatar and has said the dispute should be resolved before the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
(Reporting by Ercan Gurses and Ece Toksabay; Writing by David Dolan and Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Daren Butler)