Biden says he will designate Qatar as major non-NATO ally

AP/Alex Brandon

President Biden on Monday said he would designate Qatar as a major non-NATO ally as he highlighted the relationship between the U.S. and the Gulf state as central to relocating Afghans, stabilizing the Gaza Strip and deterring ISIS threats.

“This past year, our partnership with Qatar has been central to many of our most vital interests: relocating tens of thousands of Afghans, maintaining stability in Gaza and providing life-saving assistance to the Palestinians, keeping pressure on ISIS and deterring threats across the Middle East,” Biden said in the Oval Office during a bilateral meeting Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, Qatar’s emir.

“I am notifying Congress that I will designate Qatar as a major non-NATO ally to reflect the importance of our relationship. I think it’s long overdue,” Biden said. 

Qatar played a key role during the final U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in August and has been hosting a site for Afghan evacuees to be vetted before arriving in the U.S. In November, the U.S. and Qatar signed a memorandum of understanding for the Gulf state to continue to temporarily host Afghan special immigrant visa applicants and eligible family members while their applications are processed.

Biden said on Monday that the bilateral meeting will cover topics including security in the Gulf, the broader Middle East, global energy supplies, the people of Afghanistan and “strengthening commercial and investment cooperation between our two countries.”

Biden also addresses tensions with Russia, telling reporters that the U.S. is engaged in “nonstop diplomacy” to de-escalate tensions in Ukraine and that the U.S. is ready “with Russia’s continuing its buildup of its forces around Ukraine.”

The Biden administration has been working to identify existing non-Russian natural gas stockpiles from the Middle East and other areas and engaging with natural gas producers about potentially surging supplies to Europe amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

The emir acknowledged the 50-year anniversary of the diplomatic relationship between the U.S. and Qatar and said he wanted to focus the bilateral meeting on topics including regional security, cooperation on Afghanistan and evacuations, as well as the “equal rights of the Palestinian people.” 

The bilateral meeting came the same day that Boeing won the Qatar Airways deal to order 25 737 Max planes and 34 777X freighters, which are powered by General Electric, after Airbus canceled its order to make planes for Qatar. 

Biden applauded the Qatar Airways-Boeing deal. 

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and representatives from Boeing, Qatar and General Electric participated in a signing ceremony for Qatar Airways’ purchase of Boeing aircrafts at the White House earlier on Monday. 

Raimondo noted in a statement that the deal “is the largest dollar value commitment for freighter aircraft in Boeing’s history” and called it a win for workers, manufacturers and suppliers.

Tags Gina Raimondo Joe Biden

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