UK Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace has affirmed the depth of the relationship between Qatar and the United Kingdom (UK), describing it as based on understanding and harmony.
Wallace pointed out that the relationship between the two friendly countries is long, deep and extended since pre-oil, praising in the same context the renaissance witnessed by Qatar at all levels.
He said that he previously visited Qatar in 2003, and since then Qatar has developed significantly, not only at the local, but also at the global level. During an exclusive interview with Qatar News Agency (QNA) on the occasion of his visit to Doha, Wallace said Qatar had demonstrated its confidence and ambition by winning the hosting and organisation of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Wallace stressed that the prospect of co-operation between the two countries is very promising, as demonstrated by investments, mutual visits and visitors from both countries, considering the State of Qatar an important and essential partner for the UK. He noted the growing investments between the two countries, praising the investment relations between the two sides and looked forward to further progress and strengthening the relationship, pointing out that the UK imports Qatari gas, which is much preferred.
On the objectives of this visit, Wallace explained that it comes from the strength of the relationship between Qatar and the UK, and that it is in the interest of strengthening that relationship. He referred to his meetings with officials in Doha, during which he expressed the UK's keenness on Doha's success in hosting the 2022 World Cup, in addition to providing support and assistance to achieve this.
Wallace added that this visit also comes with the aim of strengthening joint action between the two countries within the framework of the Typhoon squadron project, which was formed between Qatar and the United Kingdom, describing this co-operation in forming the squadron as a real success. He said that this partnership can play a real role in the success of Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup, and this co-operation will create a safe environment in which the tournament will be held, and he is in Doha to find more details and discuss what can be done.
Regarding the joint flying operations of Typhoon squadron of the Royal Air Force (RAF) of the UK and Qatar Amiri Air Force last June, Wallace said that this step is symbolic and important, as reaching this stage of joint work clearly indicates that trust between the two sides is great. He indicated that Typhoon squadron is ready at any time, pointing out that the Qatari pilots are working side by side with their British colleagues, and that things are going on the right path to achieve the desired goal.
Wallace clarified that working side by side and the flying operations carried out by the squadron require sometimes flying over contested areas, and such circumstances require a special partnership based on solid foundations of mutual trust. He pointed out that Britain is not taking this relationship for granted, it is a true partnership, and what more than a partnership you can have than two planes flying side by side to protect and secure the biggest event, which is hosting the World Cup, adding that he looks forward to attending this big event.
On the military co-operation between the two countries, the UK Secretary of State for Defence said that the existing co-operation is deep and is at all levels. He added that there are Qatari cadres who receive their studies and training in the UK, whether in the military and air forces or police colleges, noting that this is the cornerstone of military co-operation between the two sides.
He indicated that the UK believes that the military co-operation between UK and any country is based on respecting sovereignty and not harming other countries, in addition to providing support and assistance in a way that preserves their security and the security and stability of their people in the first place, which is in the common interest of both sides. On the situation in the region and the most important issues discussed during the visit, Wallace clarified that the most important issues dealt with, is the importance of keeping the Strait of Hormuz safe by adhering to international law, whether with regard to airspace or maritime navigation.
He pointed out that the issue of the Strait of Hormuz is of great importance, especially since there are many countries located around this area, and UK recognises the importance of freedom of navigation for all countries. He stated that during his visit he discussed friendship relations in the region, as he touched on the Gulf crisis, and the work that must be done to resolve that dispute, appreciating the position of Qatar, which he described as "correct and based on international law", by defending its airspace.
Wallace praised the pivotal and major role that Qatar plays in providing stability to the region, noting that the joint Typhoon squadron in Doha will be necessary given the important role Qatar plays in preserving the region's security and stability. He expressed the concern of the United Kingdom as a result of the differences and tensions that occur between friends, stressing that such tensions lead to increased instability in the region.
Wallace added that in this climate of instability, Qatar is a stable country, and it is one of the countries in which Britain sees stability, and it is necessary to preserve this atmosphere by keeping it stable and providing everything that would enhance this aspect. He stressed that everyone needs stability, especially with the tensions that the region is going through, and as there are major powers competing in the region, which requires the need to find a safe way to achieve stability and reduce tensions.
The UK Secretary of State for Defence pointed out that countries like Qatar and Oman provide stability, and they are major players in keeping the Arab Gulf region in a stable situation. On the escalating level of global tension and the worlds tendency to be unstable and more anxious, he expressed concern about this situation, indicating that the Gulf region is going through the same situation of instability.
Wallace pointed out that the region has become less stable than it was 10 years ago, so the United Kingdom, Germany and France seek to keep Iran in the agreement of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear program (Iran nuclear deal). He said that the United States withdrew from the agreement, but the UK did not, as well as Russia and China, which are still signatories, and the UK will try to maintain this agreement, and hopes that Iran return to its commitment, and that the United States of America re-engage.
Wallace concluded by stressing that instability is a matter of concern, stressing at the same time that this reinforces the importance of the role that Qatar and Oman play in helping to resolve major disputes and issues.
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