The US embassy in Doha has underscored the strong and deep-rooted relations between Qatar and the US, marking the two countries’ 50th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations on March 19.
“The bond between our two countries has never been stronger, thanks to our enduring partnership to address regional and global challenges. Bilateral cooperation between the US and Qatar on trade, education, humanitarian assistance and security have broadened and deepened significantly in recent years,” US embassy charge d'affaires Natalie Baker told a press briefing on Thursday.
She said the two countries’ friendship, commercial ties, cultural exchanges and security collaboration will continue to deepen in the coming years, as she cited the meeting between His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and US President Joe Biden at the White House early this year.
The two leaders, Baker said, reaffirmed their mutual interest in promoting security and prosperity in the Gulf and the broader Middle East region, ensuring the stability of global energy supplies, supporting the people of Afghanistan, and strengthening commercial and investment cooperation.
She noted that His Highness the Amir was the first Arab leader to be invited by President Biden to have a meeting and a state visit to the White House.
“So it was extremely significant. Both President Biden and the Amir also welcomed the signing of a $20bn deal between Boeing and Qatar Airways, which will support manufacturing jobs at Boeing, General Electric and hundreds of high quality suppliers across the US, but also in Doha. This was significantly Boeing's largest deal in the history of the company,” Baker said.
In recognition of the strategic partnership between the US and Qatar, she stressed that President Biden also designated Qatar as a major non- North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) ally.
“This will confer on Qatar a variety of military and financial advantages not otherwise available to non-NATO partners. The Bilateral Security Partnership has been central to many of our most vital interests, relocating tens of thousands of vulnerable people from Afghanistan, maintaining stability in Gaza, and providing lifesaving assistance to the Palestinian people.
“Keeping pressure on ISIS and deterring threats across the Middle East, supporting peace and diplomacy in Ukraine as it endures a Russian invasion, and much more,” ,” the envoy added.
According to Baker, what a non-NATO ally designation means is a variety of financial advantages and also access to technical expertise and different forms of exchanges whether it is exchanges of military and security advisers, a fast track to purchasing some exclusive US military and defense equipment or other collaboration and consultation related to security issues.
Such designation, she added, also reinforces security partnership between the two countries, pointing out that Qatar and the US now share a very strong military and security relationship.
The envoy noted that Qatar is host to the largest US air force footprint outside of the US with the Arab base, further strengthening their partnership and providing Qatar with more access to training opportunities, as well as building the interoperability of military partners.
“We understand that there's also going to be expanded maritime relationships between the US military and Qatar. So in all of those areas, as we continue to pursue mutual goals of regional stability and prosperity and global security and stability, this is another reaffirmation of the bilateral commitment to military cooperation and partnership,” she said.
On cultural field, Baker said they are pleased to be recognised as the guest of honour for Qatar Museums’ 2021 Year of Culture, vowing to continue celebrating the strong bilateral partnership through a host of events throughout 2022.
Such collaboration, she said, aims to further enhance diverse people to people connections, promote intellectual and intercultural dialogue, and build bridges between the two countries.
Baker added that they witnessed exchanges in cultural envoys for various programming in music, food, the arts, and science across the board, developing cultural partnerships between the two countries.
On education, she said the US embassy saw a decline in Qatari students going to the US in recent years due to Covid-19 and travel situations.
“It was just very difficult globally but we are redoubling our efforts to try to recruit more Qatari students to US universities and to have more exchanges. At the same time, we want to bring more educational opportunities from the US here. So with Education City, that's a great model for of excellence in educational exchange,” the envoy said. “We're trying to bring and support more US branch campuses to come here to develop exchange programmes with Qatari universities and institutions”.
On trade relations, the envoy said Qatar and the US share extensive economic ties that have flourished over the last 50 years, where the latter is Qatar's largest foreign direct investor and second largest source of imports while Qatar also has billions of dollars invested in the US.
“Our partnership continues to deepen and diversify as together we work to achieve Qatar's ambitious Vision 2030 goals. For instance, just this week we witnessed Microsoft and the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology launched the Digital Centre of Excellence at Msheireb, that's a launching pad for next generation skilling for people of the US and here in Qatar,” Baker said.
She noted that the US remains to be the leading equipment supplier and partner for Qatar's oil and gas industry, highlighting the key role that US companies play in the development and expansion (and continue to be highly involved) of the oil and gas sector.
In addition to energy, Baker said US companies have performed well in export sales to Qatar’s defence, aviation, health care, ICT, food, and engineering and construction sectors. In addition, the US imports from Qatar include liquefied natural gas, aluminium, fertilisers and sulphur.
The US is also committed to expanding close interagency cooperation with Qatar to ensure a safe and successful 2022 FIFA World Cup this year, collaborating on cybersecurity, law enforcement training, public relations, human rights and a carbon neutral footprint for the tournament, according to the envoy.
“We congratulate Qatar for its innovative preparations thus far and will continue to support the Supreme Committee on Delivery and Legacy in advance of the 2022 FIFA men's World Cup in Qatar,” she said.
“The US also welcomes the opportunity to consult Qatar in advance of the 2026 FIFA men's World Cup, which will be hosted in North America, across Canada, the US and Mexico. So we recognise that we have a lot to learn from the Qataris and that collaboration and lessons learning has already begun.
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