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UAE softens demands on Al Jazeera

The United Arab Emirates is said to be softening its controversial demand that Qatar should close the Al Jazeera news channel.

According to a report in The Times, the US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, has given his backing to Qatar, calling its refusal to accede to the demands “reasonable”. The newspaper quotes an interview with Noura al-Kaabi, the UAE Minister for the Federal National Council, who struggled to explain why the quartet of complaining channels had also demanded the closure of Al Jazeera English, whose professionalism she praised in contrast to the Arabic channel.

She also admitted that the UAE had backed off in its demands that Al Jazeera be closed, adding that there still must be a “fundamental” change and restructuring of the news channel.

“The staff at the channel can keep their jobs and Qatar can still fund a TV channel, but not one which provides a platform for extremists and where the English-language channel is a protective shield for the must more radical Arabic one,” she told The Times.

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