A quartet of Arab nations said today they had received Qatar's response to their demands for ending a diplomatic crisis gripping the Persian Gulf, just ahead of a planned meeting in Cairo.
Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, left, talks to Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince.
Source: Associated Press
Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates said in a joint statement they would respond "in a timely manner".
The countries did not elaborate on what steps they could take, though a major credit rating agency warned it had changed Qatar's economic outlook to negative over the turmoil.
The countries cut ties to the FIFA 2022 World Cup host early last month over its alleged support for extremist groups and ties with Iran.
Qatar denies supporting extremists and has defended its warm relations with Iran; the two countries share a massive undersea natural gas field.
The nations issued a 13-point list of demands on June 22, giving Qatar 10 days to comply.
They later extended the deadline by another 48 hours at the request of Kuwait, which has acted as a mediator to resolve the crisis. That deadline expired early today.
Today, foreign ministers from the four Arab countries will meet in Cairo to discuss their next move.
Earlier, Egypt's state-run MENA news agency reported intelligence agency chiefs from those countries had met in Cairo, likely discussing the crisis.
What Qatar said in response to the demands remains unclear.
It already had called the demands, which include shutting down its Al-Jazeera satellite news network, expelling Turkish military forces based in the country and paying restitution, as an affront to its sovereignty.
The crisis has become a global concern as neither side appears to be backing down.
Qatar, the world's biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas, hosts some 10,000 American troops at its sprawling al-Udeid Air Base.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been trying to ease tensions, while President Donald Trump's comments on Qatar funding extremist groups back the Saudi-led countries' position.
The nations could impose financial sanctions or force Qatar out of the Gulf Cooperation Council, a regional body known as the GCC that serves as a counterbalance to Iran.
Some Arab media outlets have suggested a military confrontation or a change of leadership in Qatar could be in the offing, but officials have said those options are not on the table.