'US to name Qatar as major non-Nato ally'
September 17 2020 11:55 PM
Qatar USA


*MNNA status gives a country preferential access to US military equipment and technology

The United States hopes to move forward with naming Qatar as a major non-Nato ally, a status that provides foreign nations with benefits in defence trade and security cooperation, a senior US official said on Thursday.

"We're going to move ahead, we hope, with designating Qatar a major non-Nato ally," Timothy Lenderking, the US deputy assistant secretary of state for Arabian Gulf affairs, told reporters in a conference call.

US and Qatari officials, including US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Qatar Foreign Minister HE Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, met in Washington earlier this week.

"Major non-Nato ally” (MNNA) status gives a country preferential access to US military equipment and technology, including free surplus material, expedited export processing and prioritised cooperation on training.

Currently 17 countries have MNNA status, including Gulf Arab states Kuwait and Bahrain, which hosts the US Navy's Fifth Fleet.

Qatar hosts the largest US military facility in the Middle East.

The close relationship between Qatar and the US was highlighted in a joint statement issued at the end of the just concluded third Qatar-US Strategic Dialogue.

The event, held on Monday and Tuesday in Washington, saw Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs HE Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani and the US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo co-chairing the opening session.

After reviewing the progress made since the conclusion of the last Strategic Dialogue, held in Doha in January 2019, both sides discussed opportunities to further their robust bilateral relationship.

According to the statement, the event addressed regional and global affairs and built on robust bilateral cooperation in the areas of health, humanitarian assistance, international development, labour, law enforcement, counterterrorism, commerce, culture, and education.

Qatar and the US signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on education, culture, and sports in addition to signing a Statement of Intent (SoI) designating 2021 as the US-Qatar Year of Culture and an Announcement of Intent for Qatar to host an investment forum in the US in 2021. Both sides plan to sign an MoU on international development and humanitarian assistance on September 18.

The United States also recognised Qatar's active leadership and mediation to promote peace and reconciliation among all parties in Somalia and Sudan. The United States shares Qatar's concern about the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the need for tangible steps to improve living and economic conditions.

Also, the United States thanked Qatar for its indispensable role in bringing Taliban representatives to the negotiation table and for hosting the signing of the historic US-Taliban Agreement in February 2020 and the start of the Afghanistan Peace Negotiations last week.

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