The Ambassador of the United Kingdom John Wilkes affirmed that His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani's visit to his country is of particular importance in terms of the continuous consultation between the two friendly countries in various fields, and the files that concern them at the bilateral, regional and international levels.
In an exclusive interview with Qatar News Agency (QNA), the ambassador said that the United Kingdom welcomes the Amirs official visit to the UK, and considers it an extension of the high-level visits between the two countries, and a continuation of discussion and consultation on the best means to develop and strengthen the well-established historical ties between Doha and London, especially in light of the decline in the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic around the world, which allows for the intensification of the political and diplomatic momentum and dynamics to document and strengthen these distinguished relationships and pushing them towards higher levels.
He explained that the Amir’s talks with the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and senior British government officials will be held in an atmosphere of friendship and welcome to His Highness, and will focus on a number of significant political, economic, investment, commercial, cultural, sport, educational, security and military files, and the future of global energy and economy, as well as other regional and international issues of common concern.
He also underlined the importance and vitality of the strategic dialogue to be launched between the two countries, pointing out that it represents a qualitative leap in their distinguished relations in various fields.
The British Ambassador hailed the role of the Qatari diplomacy in resolving many disputes, as Qatar focuses on radical solutions to them by political and peaceful means. In this regard specifically, he referred to the political and positive role Qatar played last year in addressing the repercussions of the Afghan crisis and evacuating Afghans, UK nationals and other people of different nationalities.
He pointed out that the past year witnessed practical cooperation between Qatar and the United Kingdom on many conflicts, including the Afghan crisis, which came at an important and difficult time, in addition to other important files, including the file of combating terrorism and extremism, which he said that the two countries are keen to review and cooperate on constantly.
Ambassador Wilkes cautioned to say that the conflicts and crises on which the State of Qatar and the United Kingdom cooperate in finding peaceful solutions to are not only civil wars, but also conflicts that have humanitarian and economic dimensions, indicating that the two countries are cooperating to contain the negative repercussions of the war between Russia and Ukraine, such as the rise in oil and gas prices and the increase in inflation rates. Containing such issues would in turn contain negative consequences such as extremism and terrorism, he added.
In a related context, the Ambassador said that the United Kingdom welcomes Qatari investments, and at the same time encourages mutual investments between it and the State of Qatar, as well as export operations in both directions, especially since this year will witness negotiations towards a free trade agreement with all GCC states.
He added that his country sees many opportunities and possibilities to strengthen UKs economic, commercial and investment partnerships with Qatar within the next ten years, at a time when the two countries are now conducting a dialogue on energy and the transition from oil, gas and hydrocarbons towards renewable energies in the context of global economic transformation in this regard, and this is an important matter for both countries, noting that the dialogue on energy is completely separate from the strategic dialogue between Doha and London, which he stressed is important and vital.
He said that Qatar is an important global exporter of natural gas that the United Kingdom needs during this period, but at the same time his country respects the Qatari shift towards investing in alternative energies.
Investments between the two countries were previously limited to the oil, gas and real estate sectors, but their plans focus on transferring them to other new sectors in the alternative and renewable energy and climate using modern technology, he added.
Qatar-UK bilateral trade was 4.1 billion pounds in the four quarters to the end of Q3 2021, HE the Ambassador said, pointing out that of the 4.1 billion pounds, UK exports amounted to 2.7 billion pounds, whilst Qatari exports, amounted to 1.4 billion pounds, over half of which was related to Oil and Gas sales.
There is an expectation of a surge of bilateral opportunities over the next 12 months, underpinned by UKs intention to negotiate a UK-GCC free trade agreement to the long-term benefit of both sides, he said.
UK continues to be Qatar’s number one investment destination, with over 40 billion pounds investment to date, including most recently the announcement of Qatar Investment Authority's (QIA) investment into Rolls Royces low carbon nuclear technology, he underlined.
On the other hand, British ambassador hailed the Qatar National Vision 2030, and said that his country supports it, and that he is confident that it will achieve its goals by 2030.
Moreover, he said that the joint Royal Air Force and Qatar Amiri Air Force Typhoon squadron comes within the framework of military cooperation between the two countries, pointing out that it is a unique cooperation in this regard, as the United Kingdom does not have any such squadron with any country in the world except with Qatar. He explained that this program started four years ago and has now become a reality project.
On the Qatar's hosting of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, he stressed that Qatar has made all necessary arrangements and preparations for the success of this global sport event, and it will present a distinguished version of the tournament.
The ambassador John Wilkes emphasised the depth and strength of the existing relations between the State of Qatar and the United Kingdom and the true partnership and mutual trust between the two countries, underlying that this year will be distinguished in terms of these relations, which will provide more positive atmospheres to achieve common ambitions.
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