US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says Qatar has made “significant progress to improve efforts to combat terrorism,” despite ongoing claims by other Arab powers that the tiny Persian Gulf nation backs jihadi groups such as Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, Washington Times reported.
“Qatar is a strong partner and longtime friend of the United States. 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. The United States believes enhanced trade will contribute positively to both our countries’ economic development, and create jobs for the American people and Qatari citizens while furthering the region’s security and stability,” said Mr. Tillerson, who was joined by Defense Secretary James Mattis in hosting Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani and Defense Minister Khalid bin Muhammad al-Atiyah in Washington Tuesday.
Mr. Tillerson’s comments come roughly eight months after Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates banded together to impose an economic and diplomatic blockade against Qatar, a wealthy country that hosts Washington’s most strategic military base in the Persian Gulf, over what they claim is its weak posture on Islamic extremism and terrorism.