FOREIGN MINISTER AL-THANI: (Via interpreter) (Inaudible) the most compassionate, may the blessings of God be upon you all. First of all, I would like to welcome my friend and colleague, His Excellency Mr. Antony Blinken, who visited us yesterday first of all to encourage the American team, and I congratulate you on the performance – American national team – and we wish you luck in the matches to come. And we look forward for this tournament in Qatar 2022, will be a milestone for peoples and cultures and countries to come together and enjoy the atmosphere here in Qatar, and also to experience our hospitality in Qatar.
We had the opportunity to hold the fifth round of the Strategic Dialogue between the United States and Qatar, which we consider an important platform to enhance the bilateral relations, which is built on solid grounds and is considered one of the most important strategic partnerships of the state of Qatar. And this partnership expands from political, economic, defense, diplomatic, developmental aspects to all other aspects.
We had the opportunity to discuss different topics today regarding regional issues and the challenges faced by the world today, and on our agenda today we discussed the developments of the Iranian nuclear deal and the developments in Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, and the Palestinian issue, which is considered by us to be the central cause, and also the efforts – and we agree with the United States regarding positions vis-à-vis these issues. And also, so far as the dialogue between our institutions, there was also the opportunity to discuss the response to the challenges – global challenges – jointly, especially when it comes to food security, energy security, and other challenges.
Here in the state of Qatar we always look forward to consolidate our partnership with the United States, and we look forward to have an open dialogue and the – a relationship based on openness and transparency between our two countries. And on – I would like to avail myself of this opportunity to commend the efforts by the United States, and we thank United States for all their efforts and help to the state of Qatar in organizing the football tournament when it comes to the security aspect and other aspects. And we thank you, Your Excellency, for all your help and support.
And this is part and parcel of our cooperation, which goes beyond the partnership, the multifaceted partnership between us. And we thank you for being with us and we wish again, with your football team, a – luck, and we also wish you and our national team success in the tournament. Thank you.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, good afternoon, everyone, and Mr. Minister, Mohammed, thank you. Thank you for your wonderful hospitality. Thank you for the very good and detailed conversations that we just had as a part of the Strategic Dialogue.
I have to say that having proudly hosted the opening of the 4th U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue in Washington last year, I can objectively concede that our hosts have outdone us when it comes to entertainment surrounding the dialogue.
It was absolutely thrilling to watch Team USA play last night – thrilling as an American, thrilling as a soccer fan, a football fan. And our team played with so much heart and made our country proud, and we’re anxious to see the rest of the tournament and the games that follow.
Now, I know that neither of us notched the win that we wanted in our first match. I’m reminded of the wisdom of a great American philosopher – basketball coach Greg Popovich – who once said, and I quote, “The measure of who we are is how we react to something that doesn’t go our way,” which is true for diplomacy as well as in sports.
So we meet at what is a high point of the five-decade-long diplomatic relationship between our countries. On every issue that matters to our nations, our collaboration, I think it’s fair to say, is deeper and our people are better off for it.
The security ties between us have never been stronger. Qatar hosts our largest military base in the region, which is an anchor for regional security and regional stability. In March, President Biden designated Qatar as a major non-NATO ally – several months later, we began delivering F-15 aircraft to the Qatar Emiri Air Force, raising its defense capabilities, making our militaries more interoperable.
We’re partnering in the region and beyond to enhance stability, to reduce tensions, to end conflicts. Qatar has provided vital economic assistance to the Palestinian people. It’s helped pay the salaries of security forces in Lebanon. It’s brokered peace between Chad’s transitional government and opposition groups. And Qatar consistently works to mend regional rifts, which is essential to addressing the common challenges that we face.
We’re also deepening economic ties. From civil aviation to renewable energy, Qatari and American businesses, innovators are creating new opportunities for people in both of our countries.
We welcome the emir’s commitment to ramp up Qatar’s production of liquefied natural gas. That will bolster global energy security. It will help people around the world who are struggling to keep up with rising costs. And we recognize Qatar’s efforts to curb emissions like joining the Global Methane Pledge, and its investments in technologies to foster a clean energy transition in the years ahead.
Where conflicts and deep instability persist, we are working to help people who are suffering as a result.
When the Taliban forcibly took power in Afghanistan, Qatar played an indispensable role in helping the United States relocate tens of thousands of at-risk Afghans, aid workers, diplomats, and others. More Afghans came through Doha than any other place in the world. The work continues, as Qatar continues to provide a transit point for Afghans who are on their way to starting new lives in the United States.
We’re profoundly grateful for the role that Qatar – and Mohammed, you in particular, your team have played in helping secure the release of U.S. citizen Mark Frerichs after more than two and a half years of captivity in Afghanistan.
The Strategic Dialogue that we launched today will build on this robust cooperation in all of these areas but also many others, including cultural and educational cooperation, counterterrorism, visa and consular issues, labor issues, human trafficking, all of which we’ve worked on in the run-up to this historic sporting event.
We congratulate Qatar on hosting the first World Cup in the Middle East.
The emir’s statement that all are welcome here for the World Cup is an important message for an event that brings together people from all walks of life, nations, faiths, sexual orientations, races, and other forms of diversity. Now it’s important to make that inclusivity a reality.
We also applaud the historic step of opening direct flights between Tel Aviv and Doha for the duration of the World Cup, which shows the promise of expanding people-to-people ties and economic ties between countries.
Now, a massive amount of work goes into hosting an event like this. We know that without workers, including many migrant workers, this World Cup simply would not have been possible. Qatar has made meaningful strides in recent years to improve its labor laws, to expand worker rights. The United States has been and will continue to be a consistent partner in those efforts.
Of course, real work remains on these issues. And the United States will continue to work with Qatar on strengthening labor rights and human rights more broadly long after the World Cup is over. Today, we signed a letter of intent to expand our cooperation on promoting accessibility, combating human trafficking, improving labor practices.
These efforts align with President Biden’s commitment to making human rights a pillar of our foreign policy and core to our values and our interests.
Before last night’s game, I had a chance to watch some young players – teenagers from the United States and Qatar, from Canada and Mexico, doing drills on a pitch. As a lifelong soccer fan – and, it’s charitable to say, a mediocre player – it reminded me of one of the very best things about this sport. No matter where you go, every corner of the world – this has been my experience the last few years – you find people who love the game. They love to play it; they love to watch it. They love to argue about it. They love rooting and supporting a team with all of the joy and occasional heartbreak that that brings.
And in a world where we’re so often on a daily basis reminded of what makes us different, what divides us, soccer is a powerful unifying force, a language – a common language – that pretty much the entire world speaks.
So I wish all of the countries represented here a successful tournament. And go Team USA. Thank you.
Source: US Department of State