Posted on June 24, 2017

Turkish exports to Qatar have tripled from their normal levels to $32.5 million since four Arab countries began boycotting the Gulf state on June 5, Turkey's Customs and Trade Minister Bulent Tufenkci said late on Thursday.

Turkey, which has long tried to play the role of regional mediator, has backed Qatar in the dispute. "Since June 5 exports to Qatar have amounted to $32.5 million. Of this $12.5 million is food. This figure is three times the normal level," Tufenkci told reporters at a Ramadan fast-breaking dinner on Thursday evening. Turkey has sent more than 100 cargo planes of supplies to Qatar but Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci has said it was not sustainable to maintain supplies through an air lift.

On Thursday, Turkey sent its first ship carrying food to Qatar and dispatched a small contingent of soldiers and armoured vehicles there, while President Tayyip Erdogan spoke with Saudi Arabia's leaders on calming tension in the region. Turkey fast-tracked legislation on June 7 to allow more troops to be deployed to a military base in Qatar that houses Turkish soldiers under an agreement signed in 2014. The second group of Turkish soldiers arrived in Qatar yesterday and will join the vanguard of the forces that began training tasks on Sunday, the Directorate of Moral Guidance at the Ministry of Defence announced.

The second group of Turkish troops arrived to complete the joint exercises which are part of mutual agreements between the State of Qatar and the Republic of Turkey in this regard.