Qatar is still studying the purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile air defence system, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said, adding that the potential deal – reportedly opposed by Saudi Arabia – was none of Riyadh’s business.
Following a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on Monday, Sheikh Mohammed also said there was no sign of a thaw in the Gulf crisis over allegations by Saudi Arabia and some other Arab states that Qatar supports terrorism.
“There is a discussion for procurement of various Russian equipment but there is no understanding as of yet as to this particular equipment (S-400),” Sheikh Mohammed told a joint news conference with Lavrov.
“With regards to Saudi or other countries, it is none of their business, it’s a sovereign decision by Qatar.“
Ties between Qatar and Russia have stepped up since a blockade against Qatar was launched by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain in 2017.
Russia has consistently called for an end to the crisis through negotiations.
“Qatar has been clear from the beginning of the crisis. Once the blockading countries are willing to engage in a positive dialogue, Qatar is prepared. However, the continued policy, the continued rhetoric and demeanour will lead to no solution,” he said at the press conference.
Sheikh Mohammad said he also discussed Syria and Libya with Lavrov, who is visiting Doha, the first stop in a Gulf tour, adding that a political solution in Syria was the only option for the war-torn country and calling for unity in Libya.
He reiterated that Doha was not yet ready to normalise ties with Syria, saying the war-damaged country must have a political solution and leadership elected by its people.
Lavrov, meanwhile, said he was working with Sheikha Mohammed on finding a political solution to Libya, Syria and Palestine but he also emphasised economic cooperation.
“We agree with our friends there’s a need to increase trade and economic ties and we welcome the efforts on cooperation. The next stage will take place in Moscow on April 10,” said Lavrov.
“We highly value this relationship and we value the cooperation between the Russian government and Qatari investment agency.”
Qatar has invested billions of dollars into the Russian economy and recently finalised an $11.5bn deal to acquire nearly 20 percent of Russia’s state oil company Rosneft.
In October, Russia and Qatar signed a number of agreements on military and technical cooperation.
Reporting from Doha, Al Jazeera’s Hashem Ahelbarra said both sides are emphasising the strength of this relationship.
“Russia is trying to build bridges with countries in the Middle East for different reasons. It has been having problems with many countries over regional conflicts like the Syria conflict,” he said.
“This has created a strange relationship between Russia and many countries and explains why Russia is building bridges. The Russians are saying they want to team up with Qatar, for example, when it comes to expanding the gas market worldwide.”