Malaysia will closely monitor the situation in the Persian Gulf after six countries proceeded to cut ties with Qatar, which has been accused of destabilising the region and backing militant groups. (EPA photo)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will closely monitor the situation in the Persian Gulf after six countries proceeded to cut ties with Qatar, which has been accused of destabilising the region and backing militant groups.

“We are close to the Gulf countries and we do not know what the issues are but, at the moment, we will monitor the developments,” Najib told reporters after visiting the TRX Gallery here, today.

Najib was asked whether the diplomatic row, which is seen as a significant split between powerful Gulf nations, would have an effect on Malaysia’s ties with the region.

Several Arab nations have accused Qatar of funding terror groups including the so-called Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda, a claim Qatar has denied.

The diplomatic withdrawal was put into motion by Bahrain and Saudi Arabia earlier today. The United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Yemen and Libya followed suit.

In 2011, Malaysia and Qatar announced a US$2 billion joint investment fund and the signing of co-operation agreements in the fields of tourism and higher education.

In February, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi conducted a four-day official visit to Qatar to reaffirm the strong ties between both countries.

Among others, the Qatari government agreed to recognise the Malaysian driving licence, exempting holders from having to sit and pass the driving test there.

Malaysian tourists to Qatar were also exempted from having to pay for visas.

To date, several Malaysians companies, including WCT Engineering Bhd and Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd, have secured at least 25 projects in Qatar.

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