US hopes to name Qatar as main non-NATO ally: official | News

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The United States hopes to move forward with plans to designate Qatar as a major, non-NATO ally, a status that offers foreign nations advantages in defense trade and security cooperation with Washington. a senior US official said Thursday.

“We will move forward, we hope, in designating Qatar as a major non-NATO ally,” Timothy Lenderking, US Under Secretary of State for Gulf Affairs, told reporters at the meeting. a conference call.

U.S. and Qatari officials, including U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, met in Washington, DC earlier this week.

Major Non-NATO Ally (or MNNA) status gives a nation preferential access to U.S. military equipment and technology, including free surplus materiel, expedited export processing, and priority training cooperation .

The flags of NATO member countries are seen at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels, Belgium [File: Francois Lenoir/Reuters]

Currently, 17 countries have MNNA status, including the Arab Gulf States, Kuwait and Bahrain, which is home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet.

Qatar, host of the largest US military installation in the Middle East, has been locked in a dispute with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt since 2017.

The blockade of Qatar by the quartet severed diplomatic, economic and transport links, accusing Qatar of supporting “terrorism”. Qatar vehemently denies all the allegations.

Washington, which has close ties to all states involved in the dispute, sees the rift as a threat to the Trump administration’s efforts to contain Iran and has pressed for unity.

The news of a possible MNNA designation for Qatar comes after two Gulf states – Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates – signed normalization agreements with Israel that were negotiated by the United States.

The agreements with Israel were criticized by the Palestinians as a “betrayal”.

US officials recently expressed a desire to sell the F-35 stealth fighter jet to the UAE after the standards deal. However, Israeli officials objected, citing US policy for Israel to maintain a military advantage in the region.

Qatar has ruled out normalizing relations with Israel, saying this “cannot be the answer” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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