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30 January 2018 09:44 pm

‘Qatar is a strong partner and long-time friend’: U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

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Speaking at the Opening Session of the inaugural U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue session, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, U.S. Defense Secretary James Matthis, Qatar Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, and Qatar Defense Minister Khalid bin Muhammad al-Attiyah, convened at the U.S. State Department in Washington D.C. to discuss bilateral relations and areas of cooperation between the two countries in what is slated to become an annual dialogue session.

While the ongoing Gulf Crisis and endeavours towards its swift resolution were foremost on the agenda, several important Memorandums of Understanding were also signed between the two nations, as important areas of cooperation ranged from trade and investment, to security, counter-terrorism, energy, and aviation.

(U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson. Photo credit: U.S. State Department's Twitter)

Here are some of the most important outcomes of this evening’s live-stream from Washington:

The GCC Crisis and Counter-Terrorism 

  • The U.S. and Qatar have increased information-sharing on terrorists and terrorist financiers and aim to build upon this foundation and implement next steps.
  • Speaking on the GCC crisis, Secretary Tillerson reiterated that the U.S. “remains as concerned today as we were at its outset.” He also went on to say that “It’s critical that all parties minimize rhetoric, exercise restraint to avoid further escalation, and work toward a resolution.”
  • The U.S. expressed concern over propaganda employed in the region through daily Arab mainstream and social media, stating that a ‘united GCC bolsters our effectiveness on many fronts – defeating terrorism, defeating ISIS, and countering Iran’s malign influence.”
  • The U.S. confirmed that the effects of the GCC crisis have had direct negative economic and military consequences for those involved, as well as the United States.
  • Secretary Tillerson stated that Qatar has made ‘significant progress’ in combatting terrorism following President Trump’s challenge to the U.S.’s Gulf partners during last year’s Riyadh Conference.

Bilateral Relations & MoU’s Signed

  • The U.S. identified Qatar as a ‘strong partner and long-time friend’ whose relationship they value and seek to deepen strategic ties.
  • Enhanced trade between the two nations will have a positive impact on economic development and create jobs for citizens of both countries.
  • Since the MoU signed between the U.S. and Qatar in July of 2017, the two countries have increased information-sharing on terrorists and terrorist financiers, as well as participated in counter-terrorism technical training and steps towards improving aviation security.  
  • Civil aviation discussions exchanged yesterday addressed concerns relevant to U.S. aviation industry stakeholders, strengthening economic cooperation and leveling the playing field in the global aviation market.
  • An MoU was signed to draft a framework for the U.S. to provide technical assistance and training to the Qatari government on combating human trafficking.
  • This same MoU also provides for the creation of a bilateral working group to discuss labour practices in Qatar.
  • An MoU was signed to establish the convention for this U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue on an annual basis, furthering solidifying ties between to the two nations and building upon their close partnership.
  • A Joint Declaration outlining U.S. cooperation with Qatar on matters of shared regional and security interests was signed.

The Strategic Dialogue session comes shortly after a January 15, 2018 phone call between U.S. President Donald J. Trump, and HH the Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in which the two parties discussed ways of strengthening their partnership to ‘bring more stability to the region and to defeat terrorism.’

Qatar was one of a few nations to move forward on a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. to counter terrorism and extremism.

What are your thoughts on these breaking developments? Tell us in the comments below and don’t forget to like and share this article.

(Cover image courtesy of the U.S. State Department’s Facebook page)