US Secretary of Defense James Mattis has thanked Qatar for its efforts in support of peace in Afghanistan and for being a “long-time friend and military partner” to the US and NATO.
Speaking ahead of a meeting in Washington on Tuesday, Mattis welcomed the Qatari Minister of Defense Khalid Al-Attiyah and said: “In Qatar, we recognized a long-time friend and military partner for peace and stability in the Middle East and a supporter of NATO's mission in Afghanistan, and here I must note Qatar's recent highly successful delivery of materials from Hungary to NATO's mission in Afghanistan is proof of your global reach.
“Thank you for Qatar's efforts in support of peace and stability in Afghanistan and our efforts towards reconciliation of that too long war. I must also thank you for graciously hosting the US forces at Al Udeid Air Base, home to our combined air operations center, where together we work with 15 nations to bolster regional security and our shared commitment to combating extremism,” he said.
He went on to say that he looks forward to Al-Attiyah’s insights into how the US can advance security, “for we are aligned in seeking a region where all live and resolve disputes peacefully with neighbors, respecting sovereign internal policies.”
Al-Attiyah in turn said: “Qatar and the United States have joined a historic and strategic partnership built on a mutual respect and shared vision of a better tomorrow. We have worked closely with our partners in the United States and more specifically with our friends here at the DOD in strengthening the relationship and pushing it further.”
He said Qatar was able to look back on the great military-to-military partnership that has been built, and that he will discuss ways in which “we can further strengthen and develop this partnership to the betterment of both of our nations”.
“Qatar and the United States have stood together many times in force - in face of aggression and in support of freedom, both in my region and across the world.”
Pentagon spokeswoman Rebecca Rebarich meanwhile told US-based Al-Hurra TV after the meeting between Mattis and al-Attiyah that this had been an affirmation of the strategic and security partnership between Washington and Doha.
She said both sides discussed a number of security and military issues that included fighting terrorism and counteracting the activities of Daesh, and the support of Qatar to NATO mission in Afghanistan.
According to Rebarich the Qatari delegation headed by Al-Attiyah offered Mattis a plan to expand the US airbase in Qatar.
“The US side would review the details of the offer and talks between the two parties could result into agreement on the issue,” she added.