US President Joe Biden revealed Monday that he would designate Qatar as a major non-NATO ally, joining the likes of Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait.
“I am notifying Congress that I will designate Qatar as a major non-NATO ally to reflect the importance of our relationship, I think it’s long overdue,” Biden said ahead of his meeting with the Qatari emir.
The White House said Biden’s meeting with Qatar’s Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani would focus on the latest developments in the Middle East, the situation in Afghanistan and global energy security.
For his part, the Qatari emir said the discussions would include the “equal rights of Palestinian people.”
Washington is looking to Qatar as part of its efforts to secure alternative energy supplies for Europe as tensions with Russia over a potential invasion of Ukraine linger.
“This past year our partnership with Qatar has been central to many of our most vital interests: relocating tens of thousands of Afghans, maintaining stability in Gaza and providing life-saving assistance to the Palestinians, keeping pressure on ISIS and deterring threats across the Middle East,” Biden said.
Qatar also represents US diplomatic interests in Afghanistan, following the chaotic withdrawal ordered by Biden last summer.
Other major non-NATO allies include Afghanistan, Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Egypt, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Korea, Kuwait, Morocco, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, and Tunisia.
Taiwan is treated as a major non-NATO ally but without a formal designation.
The status, under US law, “provides foreign partners with certain benefits in the areas of defense trade and security cooperation.”
But there are no security commitments to these capitals.
Earlier in the day, al-Thani met with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon. Ahead of their meeting, Austin said the US defense partnership with Qatar was wrong and served “as a cornerstone for our strategic relationship.”
Austin thanked Qatar for hosting US troops. “This allows the United States to support a range of critical missions in the region,” he said.
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