US treasury secretary praises cooperation with Qatar

Mnuchin's visit, aimed at curbing financing of 'terrorism', comes amid political deadlock in the Gulf region.

    Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin visited Qatar during a week-long tour of the Gulf region [File: Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP]
    Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin visited Qatar during a week-long tour of the Gulf region [File: Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP]

    The United States and Qatar have agreed to enhance cooperation on counterterrorism, according to a joint statement issued after a visit by US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to the Qatari capital Doha.

    The visit comes amid political deadlock in the Gulf region that has threatened the area's stability.

    Mnuchin said on Monday that the two countries would further their "high level of joint cooperation to counterterror financing in key areas of our mutual concern" after he met the emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and other high-level Qatari officials. 

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    Mnuchin's visit to Qatar came during a week-long tour of the region that included the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. The tour was reportedly aimed at finding ways to curb "terrorism" financing. 

    On June 5, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposed a land, sea and air blockade, accusing the latter of supporting "terrorism". 

    The four countries have not provided any evidence for their claim, while Qatar has repeatedly rejected the allegation.

    "We affirm that the United States and Qatar will significantly increase our cooperation on these issues to ensure that Qatar is a hostile environment for terrorist financing," Mnuchin said.

    Commenting on the visit, Qatari Finance Minister Ali Shareef Al Emadi said the talks were "highly productive" and confirmed the "shared determination to eradicate terrorism wherever it takes root". 

    Despite conflicting statements among US officials towards the crisis, the country's secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, recently visited Qatar in a push to end the crisis. 

    "It's very important for the GCC to continue to pursue unity," he told reporters, referring to the Gulf Cooperation Council, an economic and political alliance that includes Qatar, Bahrain, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman. 

    The fate of the GCC has been thrown into question as a result of the rift between the Gulf countries. 

     

    On Monday, Bahrain said it would not attend the next GCC summit if Qatar attends, and called on the Gulf countries to "freeze Qatar's membership until it comes to its senses".  

    Kuwait, which has been attempting to mediate between the Gulf countries, warned last week against the potential of a dangerous military and political intervention that may ensue as a result of the political deadlock. 

    US President Donald Trump previously said he supported the mediation efforts of Kuwait, but if that did not manage to resolve the Gulf crisis, he would be "willing to be a mediator".

    On Saturday, the Qatari emir confirmed that Trump offered to hold a meeting at his retreat in Camp David to put an end to the diplomatic crisis.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News


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