H.H. Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar is considered a highly competent politician and a great contributor to the enrichment of international and regional political practice. The manifestations of that contribution are reflected in the boosting of economic and political cooperation between Qatar and the Gulf Arab States in particular, and between Qatar and the rest of the world in general. Such contributions emanate from a strategic vision, which is marked by courage, originality, objectivity and comprehensiveness.
The personalities Doha received during the last five years and the official visits paid by H.H. the Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani to the three old continents in addition to North America, all were positively reflected in Qatar's high standing amongst the states of the world which qualified it to play a positive and influential role marked by transparency, realism, clarity of vision and the adoption of moderate political approach.
Qatar is very keen to participate actively in the efforts to deal with all the concerns and challenges that the Gulf region encounters. It places increasing emphasis on supporting the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and spares no effort to bring about solidarity and strengthen ties of mutual trust and communication between Arab countries, propagates the wisdom of resorting to peaceful means in resolving all disputes among countries, approves the United Nations efforts to uphold peace and security and works to maintain good relations with all peace-loving peoples and countries.
Qatar rejects and denounces all forms and manifestations of terrorism, regardless of its causes, objectives and means. It, however, differentiates between terrorism and the peoples' struggle and legitimate rights of freedom and self- determination in accordance with the provisions of the international law. Qatar, in all regional and international occasions, expresses its grave concern over the escalation of conflicts, ethnic cleansing and denial of the rights of minorities in some countries in Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa and other continents. Qatar welcomes all international agreements concluded with a view to resolving such problems and pledges support for the efforts exerted by regional and international organizations to achieve peace and stability in many states and regions of the world.
In the International Arena
Qatar works very hard to establish close ties of cooperation with all peace loving countries and peoples, extends generous financial aid to many developing countries in Asia and Africa and contributes to various regional and international aid funds to create the widest possible avenues of international cooperation.
Qatar has always been a staunch supporter of liberation movements and has constantly denounced all kinds of racial discrimination wherever it exists. In May 1994, Qatar hosted the meetings of the Regional Security and Arms Limitation General Committee. Qatar adopts a set of principles as a basis for peace and security in the Middle East and the world at large. At the top of those principles comes the abstention from using or threatening to use force against territorial integrity of other countries, and seeking to resolve disputes by peaceful means such as regional or international arbitration, and dialogue. In recognition of Qatar's vital role and contribution in the efforts to uphold peace, the special work group of the Regional Security and Arms Limitation Committee for the Middle East decided in December 1994 to establish a regional center for the group in Doha to act as a front line dispute prevention and resolution facility.
And as an expression of appreciation from the international community of the policies adopted by Qatar in the regional and the international spheres, Qatar was elected in March 1995 deputy chairman for the International Social Development Summit Conference, in the context of the UN regional groups representation.
A U.S. embassy was established in Doha in 1973, but U.S. relations with Qatar did not blossom until the 1991 Gulf war. The United States promptly recognized the assumption of power by Sheikh Hamad in June 1995. Qatar's participation in the Arab-Israeli peace process accord with U.S. efforts to foster an expanding dialogue between Israel and Arab states. The two governments differ to some degree in their positions regarding Iraq and Iran. Qatar favors a policy of constructive engagement with these two states. By contrast, the United States favors isolating them through its policy of "dual containment."
Trade between the United States and Qatar has increased since the 1990-1991 Gulf war. U.S. exports to Qatar amounted to $354.11 million in 1998, consisting mainly of machinery and transport equipment. U.S. imports from Qatar, mainly textiles and fertilizers, totaled $220.36 million in 1998. - Over the past five years, the level of bilateral trade has more than doubled. Although the bulk of Qatar's trade continues to be with a few European countries and Japan, several U. S. firms, including Mobil, Occidental, Penzoil, Enron, and Bechtel are active in the exploitation of Qatar's oil and gas resources. Despite the presence of U.S. firms in the Qatari hydrocarbon industry, the U.S. imports virtually no oil from Qatar.
Bilateral defense and security cooperation has expanded since the Gulf war. On June 23, 1992, the United States and Qatar concluded a Defense Cooperation Agreement that provided for U.S. access to Qatari bases, pre-positioning of United States materiel, and combined military exercises. Since the agreement, the United States and Qatar have begun to implement plans for pre-positioning U.S. military equipment for use in a future contingency in the Gulf, including enough tanks and associated equipment for an armored brigade. A warehouse for U. S. armored equipment is being enlarged in Doha, and the United States is currently helping Qatar expand a large air base that could potentially be used to host U.S. aircraft. During a visit to Qatar in February 1999, U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Henry Shelton stated that the pre-positioning station "is right on schedule at this time and will be a great enhancement to our capabilities as well as, I think, provide a great capability that we would not have had otherwise." Qatar also has expressed a willingness to host a forward presence for U.S. Central Command and it has begun allowing U.S. P-3 maritime patrols originating from Qatar. On several occasions, Qatar has hosted temporary deployments of U.S. Air Expeditionary Forces that enhance U.S. aircraft carrier coverage of the Gulf 10 Qatar has held informal discussions about purchasing the U.S.-built Ml A2 tank and Patriot PAC ill air defense system, but no U.S. sales are anticipated at this time.
The United States has been supportive of Qatar's recent moves toward political liberalization. In March 1999, Rep. Sue Kelly (R-NY) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) headed a congressional delegation that observed Qatar's election for a Central Municipal Council. In the election's aftermath, Congress passed a resolution congratulating the state of Qatar and its citizens for their commitment to democratic ideals and women's suffrage (S.Con.Res. 14, March 4, 1999, and HCon.Res. 35, April 13, 1999).
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