Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III held wide-ranging talks with Qatari Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani during a Pentagon meeting today.
The Amir is scheduled to meet with President Joe Biden later today.
The meeting was an opportunity for the two close allies to explore how best to work together to promote security and prosperity in the Persian Gulf and Middle East.
“The US defense partnership with Qatar is strong and serves as the cornerstone of our strategic relationship,” Austin said at the start of the meeting with the Amir.
Qatar is home to American troops who are helping to secure peace in the region.
Qatar also supported the United States in its efforts in Afghanistan. “Without your help at Camp As Sayliyah and Al Udeid, we could not have evacuated more than 124,000 people from Afghanistan [Air Base]” Austin said. “They welcomed with open arms those who left Afghanistan to find a new beginning.”
Austin traveled to the Persian Gulf in September to specifically thank allies in the region for their help and said their actions saved thousands of lives. Qatar is still helping. “After our last C-17s left, your planes continued to fly out those seeking a better life,” he said.
But the region is still dangerous. Iran continues efforts to destabilize the Gulf states and sponsor proxy groups. The secretary mentioned the increasing threat of terrorism, missiles and attacks on unmanned aerial systems. The answer to these threats is a “new era of partnership, where we address common threats through multilateral efforts and operations are more integrated,” he said. “This collaboration will allow our defense ties with partners like Qatar to continue to grow, and I know Qatar and the United States stand together to ensure security and stability in the region.” We share the same goals. We want to resolve conflicts and provide humanitarian assistance to civilians in need and de-escalate tensions.”
Sheikh Tamim told Austin Qatar is proud to host the Americans at Al Udeid Air Base and is promoting the partnership between the two countries. “We will continue to work together to bring security and stability to the region and I am sure that with this close partnership and great relationship we will be able to do so,” he said.