*Expansion of Al Udeid Air Base to be discussed during talks
*Broadening of economic partnership, Syria, Palestinian-Israeli peace process and reconstruction of Iraq also on agenda
Qatar's ambassador to the US Sheikh Meshal bin Hamad al-Thani has underlined that the visit of His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani to the United States will promote political co-ordination between the two countries, strengthen bilateral relations at the security and economic levels, and increase co-operation in the fight against terrorism and extremism.
In statements to Qatar News Agency (QNA), Sheikh Meshal said the Emir and US President Donald Trump will discuss Qatar's announcement during the Qatari-US Strategic Dialogue, held in Washington recently, about the expansion of Al Udeid Air Base which is already the largest US military base in the Middle East.
In addition, Sheikh Meshal said the Emir and the US president will discuss the broad economic partnership and ways to promote it, as well as the conflict in Syria, the Palestinian-Israeli peace process and the reconstruction of Iraq, noting that these issues are very important for Qatar and that the US administration takes these issues seriously.
On the Gulf crisis, Sheikh Meshal expressed regret over the illegal siege imposed on Qatar since June 5, 2017, and referred to the sincere mediation efforts of Kuwait and other friendly countries such as the United States, and Qatar's keenness on reaching a solution to the current conflict as soon as possible. "The irony is that the siege has helped Qatar accelerate the establishment of new partnerships," he said.
The ambassador added that the US has been trying to mediate in the crisis, and Qatar welcomed and supported these efforts, reiterating Qatar's commitment to resolve the crisis with its neighbours through dialogue.
He once again welcomed all efforts by the United States to find a quick solution to the crisis.
The Qatari envoy stressed that the allegations that Qatar supports terrorism are false and baseless, saying that Qatar has rejected these charges consistently and succeeded in refuting them as they lack evidence.
The ambassador affirmed that the memorandum of understanding signed between Qatar and the US on combating financing of terrorism, which goes further than any other GCC country has done in the field of combating the flow of terrorist financing, is yet another example of the absurdity of the claim that Qatar supports terrorism.
Sheikh Meshal told QNA that recent reports indicated that the Gulf-US summit in Camp David may be delayed until September.
He affirmed Qatar's readiness for the summit, which will be hosted by President Trump, as well as its openness to negotiations since the beginning of the crisis, noting that Qatar is ready for dialogue once the siege is lifted.
Speaking about the strong military relations between Qatar and the United States, Sheikh Meshal said that Qatar plays a key role in global counter-terrorism activities by hosting the headquarters of the US Central Command in Al Udeid Air Base.
He said that the base is a major operational centre for the US forces and has been the launching point for thousands of missions against terrorists in the region.
As for the demands to move Al Udeid Air Base from Qatar, the ambassador said that Qatar has stood by the United States in times of adversity and prosperity in contrast to those who call for transferring the base having abandoned that partnership at a time when the US was expecting all the support, and the US will not forget that.
He affirmed that Al Udeid Air Base will remain in Qatar because of its strong and lasting partnership with the United States, and Qatar's commitment to fighting terrorism, noting: "Instead of moving the base, we are actually expanding it to accommodate the US forces".
On economic relations between Qatar and the US, the ambassador said that partnership between the two countries is very strong, noting that Qatari investments in the US are currently providing about 1mn jobs, while there are more than 120 American companies operating in Qatar.
He added that Qatar is planning to invest $35bn in the US until 2020, in addition to $10bn allocated for the US infrastructure.
He expressed the hope that the economic relations between the two countries will continue to grow in the coming years and expand in other sectors including medicine, technology and infrastructure.
Speaking about current conflicts and unrest in the Middle East, Sheikh Meshal said that the US role will continue to be very important in achieving stability and resolving conflicts in the Middle East.
He added that there are certainly a number of international players with great interests in the Middle East, but the US remains the strongest and most influential power in the region.
In response to a question about the recent changes in some official positions in the US administration, he said that Qatar has strong relations with President Trump and his administration, and it is fully confident that the US will chart a wise and smart course with regard to the Middle East policy, stressing that Qatar will communicate with the US on all important political issues in the region, and it looks forward to establishing close relations with the new officials.
The ambassador underlined that Qatar has a strong and multifaceted relationship with all leading institutions in the United States.
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