Qatar condemns Islamic State and rejects funding accusations

Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) - Qatar condemned on Saturday the Islamic State's "barbaric" murder of U.S. journalist James Foley and flatly rejected accusations of giving financial support to the militant group.

Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiyah's comments came a day after the German government apologized for remarks by a minister accusing Qatar of financing Islamic State militants.

Attiyah described the recent comments as ill-informed.

"Qatar does not support extremist groups, including ISIS, in any way. We are repelled by their views, their violent methods and their ambitions," he said in a statement released in London.

"The vision of extremist groups for the region is one that we have not, nor will ever, support in any way."

Qatar has previously denied supporting Islamist insurgents who have seized wide areas of northern Iraq, northern and eastern Syria.

But diplomats and opposition sources say while Qatar supports relatively moderate rebels also backed by Saudi Arabia and the West, it also has backed more hardline factions seeking to set up a strict Islamic state.

Attiyah said Qatar's goal was to do all it could to see peace and justice across the region and called for collective action to end the violence in Iraq and Syria.

He urged the Iraqi government to provide safety and security for its citizens and vowed that Qatar, a tiny but wealthy Gulf Arab state, would continue to provide humanitarian aid to the Iraqi people.

"The killing of innocent civilians and the forced flight of hundreds of thousands of people threatens the very existence of Iraq and the peace and security of the entire region," he said.

"So while, along with many other countries from the Middle East and wider international community, we have supported the Syrian opposition to the Assad regime, we do not fund ISIS or other extremist factions."

(Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith, Editing by Rosalind Russell)