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Qatar, Turkey to scale up cooperation - Qatar foreign ministry

DUBAI (Reuters) - Regional allies Qatar and Turkey plan to scale up their cooperation into a “comprehensive strategic partnership”, Qatar’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday, as Doha deals with a prolonged boycott by fellow Gulf Arab states.

The decision was taken at a ministerial meeting of the Qatari-Turkish Higher Strategic Committee held in Doha on Monday, the ministry tweeted.

Ankara threw its support behind Doha after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed all ties with Qatar in mid-2017, accusing it of funding militant groups.

Doha denies the charges and says the embargo aims to impinge on its sovereignty.

“We succeeded .... in maintaining the independence of our political decisions and facing attempts to turn us into a vassal state,” Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani told the country’s advisory Shura Council in a speech on Tuesday.

Turkey and Qatar have both provided support for the Muslim Brotherhood, which Saudi Arabia and its allies regard as an existential threat to their rule and have designated as a terrorist organisation.

When the diplomatic and trade boycott was imposed, Turkey fast-tracked legislation to send additional troops and military hardware to Qatar and provided vital food and water supplies to the tiny but wealthy country.

Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Alex Richardson