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Somalia regional state sides with Saudi Arabia over Qatar

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — A Somali regional state has declared its support for Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries that have cut ties with Qatar, in a new challenge to Somalia's efforts to stay neutral in the dispute.

In a statement issued Monday, Somalia's Southwestern state criticized the Somali government's recent stand to stay neutral in the Gulf crisis which it said was made "without much consideration and consultation" with the regional states. The statement also said that the United Arab Emirates and Somalia have centuries of historical, cultural and commercial relationships.

The development is a new challenge for Somalia's central government which has rejected multiple attempts by Gulf states to support one side or the other. Somali officials were not available for comment.