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US-Qatar to strengthen their military and economic ties

The Charge d' Affaires of the US in Qatar, William Grant, in a press briefing ahead of Qatari Emir's visit to the Whitehouse has stated that both countries are expected to strengthen their military and economic ties. He further affirmed US' commitment to resolve the on-going Gulf crisis that has resulted in a two year long economic blockade on the Qatari state. Qatar and US share cordial ties based on strategic and trade partnership.

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News Desk |

William Grant, Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires of the United States in Qatar has reaffirmed US commitments to strengthen its ties with Qatar in his statement to media reporters in Doha on Wednesday.

While speaking about the upcoming visit of the Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to Washington this month, the US diplomat stated that the visit was expected to enhance bilateral ties between the two countries through various new trade and security agreements.

The Qatari Emir is expected to meet the US President, Donald J. Trump on 9 July at the Whitehouse in the US capital, Washington, DC. “We fully anticipate it is going to be a very big visit”, Grant said in his statement regarding Emir’s visit to the US.

Qatar has opened bid to venture with technical companies for the construction of four LNG trains that will be expected to carry LNG to the US.

Grant’s statement to media reporters in Doha comes days after the US deployed F-22 stealth fighters to Qatar amid tensions in the Persian Gulf. US deploys F-22 stealth fighters to Qatar amid tensions with Iran

The US has deployed an unspecified number of F-22 stealth fighters in its Al Udeid Airbase in Qatar, the largest airbase of the US in the Middle East and Gulf region.

Officials of the US Air Forces and Central Command in a statement following the deployment of aircrafts last week had stated that the US was defending its forces and national interests in the region.

The deployment of the hi-tech planes has come after months since the US and Iran have been embroiled in a military standoff as a result of the unilateral withdrawal of the US from the 2015 Iranian Nuclear Deal and the re-imposition of sanctions on Iran.

Read more: Qatar blockade just strategy to maintain hegemony over Middle East?

Last month, the situation had worsened as Iran shot down a US drone over the Gulf waters that it claimed to have been spying on the Persian territory, following deadly attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf that the US and its Gulf allies have blamed Iran for.

Amid fears of military escalation and further sanctions on the country, Iran has warned  to exceed its uranium enrichment limitation beyond 3.67 percent in case E3+2 (Germany, France and Britain + Russia and China) – parties to the deal fail to negotiate relief from the US sanctions.

Qatari Emir and President Trump Expected to Discuss the on-going Rift

On being asked if the matters pertaining to the on-going conflicts in the Gulf will make it to the agenda setting, Grant acknowledged that both issues regarding the Iranian rift and the on-going Gulf blockade will be discussed as part the bilateral meeting.

“As the Secretary of State said when he visited Qatar last January that the Gulf dispute has lasted too long. The US believes that resolving the dispute is in the interest of all parties in the region, as well as in the interest of the US.” he said while talking about the protracted blockade imposed on Qatar by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain since 2017.

The US maintained a $2.8 billion trade surplus with Qatar in 2018, driven by Qatari purchases of US aviation and defense systems and technology products.

Talking to media reporters, Grant stated that both the US and Qatar share an equal and mutually-beneficial partnership. “The relationship between the US and Qatar is active and diverse. US is engaged in activities that are helping Qatar; Qatar is doing things that helps US and that are our interest. His Highness has visited the US about once a year on a regular routine and that helps both sides to work the agenda we do in the remaining months,” he said talking about the US-Qatar relations.

Qatar-US a Growing Strategic Partnership

Qatar hosts the largest military airbase of the US in the region, Al Udeid and another US owned base named As Sayliyah Army Base. Al Udeid hosts about 11,000 US and US-led coalition forces and over 100 operational aircrafts.

In the aftermath of the Gulf War in 1991, the US and Qatar signed a military cooperation agreement after which the US military moved to Qatar in 2003, evacuating the Prince Sultan Airbase in Saudi Arabia.

Read more: Qatar to host New round of talks between the US and Taliban

Strategically placed, about 80 percent of aerial refueling in the region is being done from Al Udeid, according to Qatari officials.

Qatar has also been hosting Taliban leadership for negotiating purposes and has recently hosted the seventh round of talks between the US and Taliban. The next round of talks will be co-hosted by Qatar and Germany in Doha on July 7-8.

Qatar to Build Four LNG Trains for its Exports to the US

Qatar has opened bid to venture with technical companies for the construction of four LNG trains that will be expected to carry LNG to the US.

The tender calls for the EPC of the four mega-LNG trains with gas and liquid treating facilities, ethane and liquefied petroleum gas production and fractionation, a helium plant, and utilities and infrastructure to support the processing units.

The four-mega LNG trains are part of Qatar Petroleum’s plans to expand Qatar’s LNG production from 77mn tones per annum (Mta) to 110mta by 2024.

Read more: Qatar responds to threats aimed at Al Jazeera

Qatar Petroleum (QP) is looking to invest at least $20 billion in the United States according to Saad al-Kaabi, the CEO of QP. QP is also a majority owner of the Golden Pass LNG terminal in Texas, with Exxon and ConocoPhillips (COP.N) holding smaller stakes.

The US maintained a $2.8 billion trade surplus with Qatar in 2018, driven by Qatari purchases of US aviation and defense systems and technology products. Overall volume of trade in 2018 was $6 billion.

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