United States and Qatar Hold Inaugural Strategic Dialogue

On Jan. 30, the governments of the United States and Qatar held the inaugural U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C.  U.S. Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis and U.S. Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson co-chaired the opening session jointly with Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defense Khalid al-Attiyah and Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.

Left to right: Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Defense Minister Khalid bin Muhammad al-Atiyah, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis at the opening session of the inaugural U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue. State Department photo

In remarks at the high-level opening session of the dialogue, Mattis and Tillerson underscored the importance of the United States’ cooperation with Qatar.

“Qatar is a longtime friend in the region. Even in the midst of its own current challenges, Qatar and the United States maintain excellent military-to-military relations, hosting Al Udeid Air Base, home to our Combined Air Operations Center, the United States Air Force Central Command Forward Headquarters, and U.S. Central Command’s Forward Headquarters, providing critical counterterrorism support to the Defeat ISIS/Defeat Daesh coalition and President Trump’s South Asia strategy,” Mattis said.

“We value the U.S.-Qatar relationship and hope the talks today deepen our strategic ties. In today’s Strategic Dialogue sessions, we will discuss important areas of cooperation, including trade and investment, security, counterterrorism, energy and aviation,” Tillerson said.

An Agreement on Civil Aviation: In his remarks, Tillerson welcomed the understandings the United States and Qatar reached on civil aviation on Jan. 29. Tillerson said, “These exchanges addressed concerns important to U.S. aviation industry stakeholders and strengthened our economic cooperation. The President has made this matter a priority, and the outcome we achieve will ensure a level playing field in the global aviation market.”

Combatting Human Trafficking: Tillerson also announced that the U.S. and Qatari governments would sign a memorandum of understanding that creates a framework for the United States to provide technical assistance and training to the Qatari government on combatting human trafficking and examining labor practices in Qatar. Tillerson said, “Through our continued cooperation, we hope to partner with Qatar to build institutional capacity to eliminate human trafficking, an area in which Qatar has already made significant strides.”

Combatting Terrorism: Citing significant progress Qatar has made to combat terrorism following last year’s Riyadh Summit, the subsequent signing of an MOU to increase information-sharing on terrorists and terrorist financiers, as well as counterterrorism technical training and steps taken to improve aviation security, Tillerson said, “We look forward to building on this foundation and implementing next steps.”

During the dialogue, representatives from the United States and Qatar discussed other critical regional security issues, including the ongoing battle to defeat ISIS, the Gulf dispute, the situation in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and Iran’s role in the region.

At the conclusion of the U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue, the United States and Qatar released a joint statement welcoming enhanced cooperation – particularly on but not limited to — political cooperation, defense, counterterrorism and trade and investment. In the joint statement, both the United States and Qatar committed to continuing our dialogue and cooperation on these issues as well as a number of other shared goals.

Editor’s Note: A version of this entry also appears on the U.S. Department of State’s official website and on Medium.com.

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