Qatar’s emir, US defence secretary praise ‘strategic relations’

Speaking at a meeting in the Pentagon, Sheikh Tamim and James Mattis hailed countries’ ‘strength of relations’.

Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani has praised the bilateral relations between Qatar and the United States and pointed out the importance of coordination between the two countries, especially in the field of combating terrorism.

Speaking at a meeting with US Defence Secretary James Mattis on Monday, the Emir hailed the strength of relations between the two countries.

“We are very proud of this expanding relation,” Sheikh Tamim said, speaking at the Pentagon, the US Department of Defense headquarters in Virginia.

“We are working together in the face of terrorism and we are looking at ways to develop this relationship,” he continued, adding that Qatar hosts more than 10,000 US soldiers at an army base.

For his part, Mattis said that Washington and Doha are discussing ways of enhancing military cooperation between the two countries.

“You certainly know that we see you as a long-time military partner and friend in the region,” he told Sheikh Tamim.

Mattis also stressed that Washington was seeking to cooperate with Qatar in order to achieve peace in the Middle East on several fronts, such as combating terrorism, defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS), and undermining Iran’s activities in the region.

“I look forward to building on the momentum of this meeting, where we will discuss opportunities to strengthen our cooperation in the future,” Mattis said.

“I want to stress here Qatar’s position in support of the US commitment to regional security, which includes information exchange and counterterrorism efforts.”

Mattis praised Qatar’s hosting of the Al Udeid airbase, which he said provides key support for military operations against ISIL, in addition to backing NATO in Afghanistan.

“We are very grateful to Qatar’s investment in the Joint Air Operations Center and its offer to expand the important facilities at the army base,” he said.

The meeting was part of Sheikh Tamim’s official visit to the US, which began last Friday in Florida where he met a number of military and civilians officials there.

The White House earlier said that Trump would meet Sheikh Tamim on Tuesday to discuss ways to advance “joint security and economic priorities” between the US and Qatar.

Source: Al Jazeera