By DoD News
By Jim Garamone
U.S. and Qatari defense leaders discussed events in Afghanistan as well as a wide range of issues in the Middle East during Pentagon meetings Thursday.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III hosted Dr. Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah, Qatar’s deputy prime minister and minister of state for defense affairs. The two men spoke as efforts to evacuate Americans and Afghans who worked with coalition forces from Kabul continued.
“It’s a busy day and our focus continues to be on the situation in Kabul,” Austin said. “That will be a key part of our discussions and your visit comes at a good time.”
Qatar has long supported U.S. efforts in Afghanistan and hosted the talks between the Taliban and U.S. in their capital city of Doha. “I want to personally thank you for your government’s long-standing support for the U.S mission in Afghanistan — including your ongoing support for the safety of American citizens and personnel as we’re pushing hard to get people out of the country,” Austin said.
Qatar and the United States are close allies. “Our relationship is built on long-standing support and friendship,” the secretary said. “When the United States needs support, Qatar always answers. In particular I want to pass on the department’s deep gratitude to you and his highness the Emir for hosting and protecting U.S. forces in Qatar.”
Qatar is also working to address key regional challenges. Qatar has pledged in-kind assistance to Lebanese armed forces and donated $100 million to Yemen via the World Food Program. The government has also supported humanitarian efforts in Gaza. “We welcome Qatari leadership in all these issues, and we look forward to continuing our work together including increasing the interoperability between our two militaries,” Austin said.
The Qatari minister will visit St. Louis for the unveiling of Qatar’s F-15QA — an advanced F-15 Eagle built to Qatari specifications. Austin said the purchase of these aircraft will strengthen the already close relationship between the two nations’ militaries.
“Qatar has been a long-time trusted ally to the United States,” Dr. Al Attiyah told Austin. “Our strategic partnership is crucial to maintaining peace and unity in the Middle East.”