US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Qatari counterpart Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani reiterate Washington and Doha’s commitment to that two-state solution and to “improving humanitarian and economic conditions for all” in the Palestinian territories.
By ILH Staff and News Agencies Published on 11-14-2021 08:52 Last modified: 11-14-2021 08:52Secretary of State Antony Blinken with Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani in Washington, Nov. 12, 2021 | Photo: AP/Olivier Douliery/Pool
The United States and Qatar said on Saturday that they remain committed to working together to “improve humanitarian and economic conditions for all” in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, noting that they were “deeply concerned” by the situation in the Palestinian territories.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Qatari counterpart, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani met in Washington on Friday for the fourth annual US-Qatar Strategic Dialogue summit.
According to the State Department, the two discussed “a range of regional and global affairs” including security cooperation, labor, and human rights, health and humanitarian assistance, and recent events in Afghanistan.
In a joint statement, Blinken and al-Thani reiterated “the importance of achieving a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Commenting on the situation in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Authority governed West Bank, the two top diplomats said that their countries “remain deeply concerned” and “will continue to work together to improve humanitarian and economic conditions for all, and discussed the importance of achieving a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
Qatar, a major Hamas backer, has pledged some $360 million for Gaza’s reconstruction following the Islamist terrorist groups’ last conflict with Israel in May.
The Gulf energy-rich state has funneled some $1 billion into Gaza since 2012. Since 2018, it has been providing Hamas with monthly payments averaging $20 million, essentially covering Hamas salaries for its civil servants and providing a monthly $100 stipends to scores of impoverished families.
Al-Thani said at the time that Qatar would continue to support Palestinians so as to reach “a just and lasting solution by establishing their independent state in accordance with the Arab Peace Initiative,” referring to the 2002 Saudi-backed peace initiative.
As part of Blinken and al-Thani’s meeting, Qatar also agreed to represent the US in Taliban-run Afghanistan in the wake of the shuttering of the American Embassy in Kabul following the Taliban’s takeover of the country in late August.
The two said Qatar will serve as the US “protecting power” in Afghanistan, meaning Doha set up a US “interests section” within its own embassy in Kabul to handle consular services for American citizens in Afghanistan and liaise between Washington and the Taliban government.
The US has numerous protecting power arrangements in countries where it does not have a diplomatic presence. Those notably include Switzerland in Iran, Sweden in North Korea and the Czech Republic in Syria.