US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has praised the development of Qatari-American relations over the past four years, applauding the Gulf country's important role in establishing peace in Afghanistan.
In an interview with local Al-Raya newspaper on the sidelines of his visit to Doha on Saturday, Pompeo said that he wanted very much to visit Doha during his current tour of the region to meet His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani. He added that they held important meetings, pointing out that the relations have developed greatly over the past four years, and this is important for the Qatari and American people alike.
On the Gulf crisis, Pompeo expressed his hope for a solution, saying that they worked hard in all parts of the region to create more prosperity and peace, adding that this could be seen in the work he was doing for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan and in other parts of the Middle East as well, stressing that they were working to make the relationships stronger, deeper and better.
Regarding the opening of airspace of the blockading countries, the US Secretary of State said that he would leave that for those countries to declare, saying these are sovereign decisions they should take, but he said that he encouraged all parties to find common ground and to ensure the ability of aircraft to fly between them and in their airspace.
On the strategic partnership between Qatar and the United States in combating terrorism, Pompeo said the US needs every country to be part of stopping the provision of resources to extremists wherever they are, stressing the importance that every country bears responsibility and guarantee that their resources will not support extremism in any way.
On the Afghan dialogue in Doha, the US official said it is a complicated process and these things always take some time. "The US primary goals were to go there and destroy Al Qaeda, and today there are less than a few hundred members who remain in the country," he said pointing out that they focused their attention on peace and reconciliation between the Afghan people by making sure that no terrorist attack is ever launched from Afghan soil. He said once that goal is achieved his country will reduce costs and its soldiers there.
He stressed that the parties have made real progress on each of these issues. "With regard to negotiations, the Afghans have started the negotiation process, and the procedures took several months, but they have now agreed on a set of rules and procedures for the negotiations," he said, expressing hope that in the coming weeks they will make substantial progress. He added that they called on both sides to reduce the levels of violence.
Pompeo emphasised that the Qatari government has been a wonderful and important partner not only in helping the US by hosting these negotiations , but also by engaging in a constructive way, adding that this increases the chances of success in the end.
Commenting on the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, the US Secretary of State said it is the right course of action to deliver on the promises that the Trump administration made, adding that they have monitored the conditions on the ground. He stated that focusing on the number of troops is one thing among many other things that they are doing, and they believe they still have the tools to fulfill the two commitments made by President Trump.
In response to a question about the results of the US presidential elections and the transfer of power, Pompeo voiced confidence that the transition will go well, adding "the world must know that America will go through the election process.. and every single vote will be counted and the legal procedures will be followed just as they always do". He stressed his confidence in the American constitution and institutions, adding everything will be fine.