Qatar says ties with Russia strong despite airport incident

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Qatar branded as "regrettable" on Saturday an airport attack on Russia's ambassador last month, saying ties with Moscow were solid although Russia downgraded relations with the Gulf state.

"Our relations with Russia are solid, strong and important and this regrettable incident will not affect them," Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani told reporters.

"The Russian ambassador exceeded some limits but he was not humiliated and we have the proof," said Sheikh Hamad, who is also foreign minister.

On December 5, the Russian foreign ministry said it was downgrading its relations with Qatar following an airport attack on its ambassador.

It said the envoy "was attacked by security and customs personnel" who were trying to strip him of his diplomatic bag.

"As a result of their aggressive behaviour, the Qatar side's actions damaged the ambassador's health," the statement said.

Russia demanded an official apology from Qatar for the November 29 incident, noting that senior Doha officials had been "informed about the decision to downgrade relations with Qatar."

The statement said the ambassador, V. E. Titorenko, would be recalled to Russia "once he completes treatment".

© 2011 AFP

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