A number of US officials and special envoys for various issues, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, will take part in the 20th edition of the Doha Forum, taking place on March 26 to 27 at the Sheraton Grand Doha Resort & Convention Hotel, US embassy charge d'affaires Natalie Baker has said.
“We will have a significant presence at the Doha Forum, we're looking forward to that. We also have senior-level congressional officials coming out. So a variety of talks will happen on the margins of the Doha Forum in addition to participation in the panels,” she told reporters at a recent press briefing at the US embassy in Doha.
The Doha Forum 2022, organised under the patronage of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, will be held under the theme ‘Transforming for a New Era’ and will focus on four core areas: Geopolitical Alliances and International Relations; Financial System and Economic Development; Defense, Cyber and Food Security; and Climate Change and Sustainability.
According to Baker, the US’ participation reflects the direction it is looking in terms of future initiatives for its partnership on climate change and energy security.
“That's a big focus right now because of the conflict and crisis in Ukraine. We'll have our special envoy for energy issues here discussing with his counterparts how to secure energy resources, how to look to expanding those resources in a timely and efficient manner, and how the US can be supportive in those efforts.
“On climate change, we're looking at reaching our 2030 climate goals, how we can work together in partnership for that on various initiatives, including through the World Cup and the commitment to a carbon neutral footprint and how those lessons can continue to be to be implemented as the US takes on the hosting of the World Cup in 2026,” the envoy said.
About the Ukraine crisis, Baker stressed that “Qatar has been a very strong partner to the US in solidarity and support of the people and the government of Ukraine as they face the Kremlin's aggression, which has been unprovoked.
“And we're equally appalled by Russia's brutal tactics and its blatant disregard for innocent lives. The Qatari foreign minister has spoken with State of Secretary Antony Blinken a number of times since the beginning of this conflict.
“We share goals of trying to resolve this situation diplomatically. We've been very, very encouraged by Qatar’s use of its good offices to try to promote a resolution, and have been very thankful that through our strong partnership, we've been able to coordinate on some of that outreach that the Qataris have been making to the Ukrainians, but also on the Russian side.
“We have been in touch with the Ukrainians, of course, from the capital, but also here and maintain close contact with the Ukrainian ambassador regarding his assistance requests. And I know that he's made those directly to the Qatari government as well, and that His Highness, the Amir himself, has been in regular contact with President Zelensky. So through our partnership, we are exchanging information and determining the best way forward in support of the Ukrainian people,” Baker said.
On Afghanistan issue, she said Qatar has been their most reliable partner in terms of evacuation that happened in August and September from Afghanistan, but also in support of rebuilding the country after years of crisis and conflict.
“The Qataris are providing humanitarian assistance. We're also helping with that, trying to rebuild the country economically so that the people of Afghanistan do not continue to suffer and do have access to resources to ensure that governance is inclusive, that women's rights are respected there, that girls are able to have an education,” Baker said.
She pointed out that Afghanistan will continue to be a focus of their joint efforts, citing that they signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Qatar in November last year – mainly on protecting a power arrangement whereby Qatar represents US interest in Afghanistan.
“That means addressing consular services to American citizens and also caring for our facilities there, our embassy compound, and playing a role where they're also helping us to find a path eventually in the future, to go back into Kabul diplomatically,” Baker said.
About the Doha Strategic Dialogue, she said the dates have not been fixed yet but she hopes the meeting will take place before the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The Dialogue was held in Washington, DC last year and it is expected to be hosted in Doha this year. Part of its economic component tackles further expansion of trade and investment relations between the two countries.
As the Covid situation continues to improve and travel is increasing, Baker said they hope to host a number of trade delegations and support trade missions from Qatar to the US across all of the states.
“We have a lot of those types of exchanges, both to expose Qatari investors to different markets across the US and also especially with small and medium sized enterprises from the US, bringing them here to make introductions and to expose them to a lot of the opportunities that are happening here, especially with the Vision 2030 goals and all of the development that will happen,” she said.
However, the envoy noted that they are currently working on trying to maintain the momentum from the last strategic dialogue, as working groups focus on identifying the deliverables or announcements for the next meeting.
“Some of the working groups are on educational issues and curriculum development. Other conversations we're having are on justice and security issues, how to promote exchanges, of course in the run-up to the World Cup, (and) also across the board security cooperation that we've had,” Baker said.
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