* Agreement covers various areas, including defence, security, sports, economy, combating terror
* French minister reaffirms support for Qatar's hosting of World Cup
* French PM to attend opening of National Museum in March
* 'People should not pay the price of differences between nations'
HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani on Monday announced the signing of a declaration of intent to establish a strategic dialogue between Qatar and France, constituting “a qualitative leap for the distinguished strategic partnership between the two countries”.
The agreement covers various areas, such as defence, security, health, education, culture, sports, economy, investment, combating terrorism and follow-up on developments pertaining to relations between the two countries as well as the implementation of agreements between them, the official Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported.
Addressing a joint press conference with French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs of Jean-Yves Le Drian, HE Sheikh Mohamed said the common and firm approach to ties between Qatar and France called for constructive steps in this relationship, noting that the declaration of intent signed between the two countries constituted a qualitative leap for the strategic partnership between Doha and Paris.
The agreement was signed by HE Sheikh Mohamed and Le Drian following a meeting on Monday during the latter’s visit to Qatar.
HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs expressed hope that the dialogue would be an important extension of co-operation mechanisms and open up broad prospects for strengthening co-operation relations between Qatar and France.
He explained that the strategic dialogue is based on “very strong foundations, adding that it will create the right ground for co-ordination and action, especially at the level of building partnerships and a strategic vision combining the two countries”.
Further, he noted that the strategic dialogue opens “new and very strong prospects” for co-operation in various sectors, such as security, defence, energy, economy and other sectors of interest to both countries, stressing that the Qatari government highly appreciates the partnership between the two countries and always works to support it.
HE Sheikh Mohamed said the French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs held very positive discussions in Doha. His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani met with Le Drian on Monday and the meeting dealt with the historic friendship between the two countries and regional development, he added.
HE the Foreign Minister also pointed out that his talks with the French minister were characterised by an atmosphere of transparency and exchange of views on all issues of strategic co-operation between the two countries, both in the defence and economic fields as well as economic and cultural partnerships. He added that they exchanged views on regional issues, especially the Gulf crisis, Palestinian issue, Syria and ways to confront terrorism.
On his part, Le Drian congratulated Qatar on its national football team's recent victory at the Asian Cup. He said the Qatari team played very well and their victory is a source of national pride for Qatar and is a good indication for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
He also confirmed his country's support for Qatar's hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, adding that football is one of the best aspects that brings the people of Qatar and France together.
Le Drian reaffirmed the importance of establishing a strategic dialogue between Qatar and France, adding that the joint interests of both countries paved the way to establish the bilateral strategic dialogue on a wide scale and to continue on a regular basis.
He said the dialogue will focus on several aspects, such as reaching a political solution in Libya that will lead to elections and achieve stability in the country, thus resulting in security and stability in the region. It will also focus on ways to resolve the Syrian crisis, which will be achieved by establishing a constitution, holding elections in which all Syrians participate and finding a neutral environment that would guarantee success, without which there will be no sustained victory against the IS, no return for the refugees and no security for neighbouring countries, QNA reports.
He also observed that the strategic dialogue will support sovereignty and the stability of countries that have been hit by crises such as Lebanon and Iraq, as well as the situation in Palestine and especially Gaza, which he said requires decisive action from the international community to support the two-state solution that allows the two countries to live side by side in peace and security within recognised borders, with Jerusalem as the capital of the two states.
He touched on the importance of the Qatari-French relations and the extent of co-operation between the two countries in all fields, including defence, security, economy, energy and culture. He highlighted that Qatar recently received the French Rafale fighter aircraft in Bordeaux, France, in the presence of HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs Dr Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah, referring to robustness in ties between the two countries in the defence and security fields.
Le Drian added that the increasing number of threats and crises in the Middle East and elsewhere shows the importance of security and defence co-operation between the two countries, in particular the fight against terrorism, its financing and the ideology that fuels it.
The strategic dialogue will develop co-operation relations between the two countries across various fields, including culture and Francophonie, he said, noting that the French Prime Minister will attend the opening ceremony of the National Museum of Qatar in Doha next month.
He highlighted the importance of economic co-operation between the two countries, saying that France and French companies want to keep up with the Qatari economy in enhancing its independence and developing Qatari productive investments in France, in addition to the sports sector, especially in preparation for the 2022 World Cup.
Le Drian said his country's stance on the measures taken by a number of neighbouring countries against Qatar calls for resolution through dialogue between countries, stressing that people should not pay the price of differences between states.
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