HomeUnited StatesSecretary Antony J. Blinken And Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed...

Secretary Antony J. Blinken And Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani Before Their Meeting – United States Department of State

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Good morning, everyone.  It is, as always, a pleasure to receive the prime minister here at the State Department in Washington.

Qatar has been an exceptional partner for the United States, and today we’ll be having our strategic dialogue, going through the many issues that we’re working on together, both on a bilateral basis, a regional basis, and a global basis.  And Qatar has been critical in the last few years in helping to get Americans who are being arbitrarily detained back home to their families in a whole variety of places.  And of course, they’ve been critical in helping to relocate so many of our Afghan partners who stood with us for 20 years in Afghanistan, and now we’re trying to do right by them.  And our own strategic relationship has only grown stronger over the last few years.  We’ll be talking about that.

But of course, most immediate and most urgent on our minds and in our focus is the situation in Gaza.  And here we have an opportunity for an immediate ceasefire that can bring hostages home, that can dramatically increase the amount of humanitarian assistance getting into Palestinians who so desperately need it, and can also set the conditions for an enduring resolution.  And it is on Hamas to make decisions about whether it is prepared to engage in that ceasefire.  But throughout – including the original ceasefire that we were able to achieve last year that brought hostages home and created a week’s quiet, humanitarian assistance doubling during that time – Qatar played, along with Egypt, a critical role in getting us to that point.  And it continues to do so now, and I’m grateful for that on behalf of the United States.

It’s also urgent irrespective of a ceasefire to dramatically increase the humanitarian assistance that’s getting to people inside of Gaza.  The situation for children, for women, for men who are caught in this crossfire of Hamas’s making inside of Gaza is unacceptable and unsustainable.  Israel has to maximize every possible means, every possible method of getting assistance to people who need it.  The United States will continue to strongly support those efforts, along with many other countries around the world.  But it requires more crossings, it requires more aid getting in, and once that aid is in, it requires making sure it can get to the people who need it.  So we will continue to press that every single day, because the situation as it stands is simply unacceptable.

We have a lot to talk about, but again, I just want to emphasize that for the United States, Qatar has been an exceptional partner.  We’re grateful for that partnership, and for the vital work that we’re doing together every single day.

My friend.

PRIME MINISTER AL THANI:  Well, thank you very much, Mr. Secretary, for hosting me today in the sixth round of our strategic dialogue.  We’ve seen year after year the evolution in this relationship and how it’s solidified our partnership.  And Qatar always consider U.S. as our strongest ally and partner and friend.  Thank you very much for all the work that you put and invested in this relationship.

And also, as you mentioned, our relationship is ranging between – in a lot of fronts, whether it’s on the regional security, on defense, on economic ties, and of course beyond that in all sectors.  I’m glad that our strategic dialogue this year will have also another added topics about emerging technologies, about strategic policy planning, which is – in today’s world it’s key to make sure that our policies are aligned strategically and serving the greater good for our countries and for the international peace and security.

As you highlighted, Mr. Secretary, that the situation that we are going through in the region right now, it’s unprecedented with the turmoil happening everywhere, starting from the war in Gaza or the Red Sea, Syria, (inaudible).  And we’ve seen that just growing, and it’s becoming very, very concerning for all of us.

We thank you for all your support and partnership throughout the process of the negotiations of bringing the hostages back and reaching a ceasefire and alleviating the humanitarian situation in Gaza.  I just wanted to reiterate in front of you, Mr. Secretary, Qatar, the United States, and our partners will be always persistent to make sure that this deal happens, despite whoever is trying to undermine the efforts of bringing peace.  We want to bring peace.  We want to see an end of the humanitarian suffering; we want to see the hostages back with their families.

And hopefully today will present us an opportunity to discuss further in details about the development on that front, on the bigger picture, and of course ultimately hoping to reach a just solution for the Palestinian people also to get their own state at the end of the day.  I thank you very much, Mr. Secretary.  Thank you for being a great partner and a great friend as well.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, thank you, my friend.  If you’ll allow me one final thing that I wanted to share – we’ve also seen, again, virtually every single day, attacks by the Houthis on shipping in the Red Sea.  A ship that they attacked has now sunk to the bottom and the result of that is there’s a huge fuel slick from that ship.  So that’s creating a potential environmental disaster.

At the same time, we’ve seen the Houthis attack ships that are bringing food, grains to the people of Yemen, the very people that the Houthis purport to in some fashion represent.  And of course, it’s had a dramatic impact on shipping around the world.  That’s going to have an impact for a lot of people in higher food prices and energy prices.  But in Yemen itself, in the region itself, environmental disaster and a huge impact on the ability to get food to people who so desperately need it in Yemen.

So if the Houthis care at all about their own standing, their own reputation, the way in which they’re seen by the world, they will stop these attacks and stop the terrible damage that it’s doing to people in the region, people in Yemen, people around the world.  Thank you.

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