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Germany 'regrets' minister's claim on Qatar funding IS

Germany on Friday (Aug 22) said it regretted any offence caused to Qatar after a cabinet minister linked the Arab state to financing of jihadist militants in Syria and Iraq. 

BERLIN: Germany on Friday (Aug 22) said it regretted any offence caused to Qatar after a cabinet minister linked the Arab state to financing of jihadist militants in Syria and Iraq. "We regret if there have been any misunderstandings" a foreign ministry spokesman said after the comments by Development Aid Minister Gerd Mueller to a German public broadcaster. On the funding allegations, he said: "I am not aware of such information."

Mueller, speaking to ZDF about the financing of militant group Islamic State (IS), said: "A story like this always has a history ... Who is financing these troops? Hint: Qatar." Doha denies supporting the hardline IS insurgents who have overrun large parts of Syria and Iraq and who this week sparked global outrage with the release of a video showing the beheading of US journalist James Foley.

A spokeswoman for Mueller's ministry said he had merely "referenced press reports" and had made "no concrete allegations". The foreign ministry spokesman said the Qatari government had discussed the minister's comments with the German embassy in Doha.

"We told the government of Qatar that, for the federal government, Qatar is a partner with whom we work in a variety of ways, even if there are some questions where we don't always have the same opinion," he said at a press conference. He stressed that Germany has "good and friendly relations" with Qatar, which he termed a "major regional player".