Foreign ministry keeping an eye on Qatar crisis

The foreign ministry says it is monitoring the current situation in the Middle East for its possible effects on Taiwan. That's after a group of Arab nations led by Saudi Arabia broke ties with Qatar earlier this week.

Chen Chun-shen, head of the ministry's Department of West Asian and African Affairs, said Thursday that Qatar and Saudi Arabia are important trading partners for Taiwan. He said the situation in the region will have an effect on Taiwan's economy. He noted in particular that Qatar is a key supplier of natural gas.

Chen said, "Once [the break] occurred, we immediately noted an uptick in energy prices. The scale of the increase has not been too great as yet. But the development of this regional incident is closely connected to our domestic economic development. We will keep a close eye on developments and do everything we can domestically in response."

The crisis began on June 5 when countries including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt abruptly cut ties with Qatar. The group has accused Qatar of funding international terrorism. But political analysts are viewing the move as a power play led by Saudi Arabia in its battle with Iran for primacy in the region.

Source: Radio Taiwan International