US President Barack Obama lavished praise on Qatar’s Emir Thursday, indicating a strengthening of relations between Washington and Doha.
It was the emir’s first official meeting with an American president since 2003 – the eight-year gap being attributed by some to tensions between the US and Qatar over Al Jazeera’s coverage of the Iraq war.
But no hard feelings were expressed on Thursday.
Instead, Obama thanked Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani for Qatar’s role in supporting “democratic transitions” in Egypt and Tunisia, as well as his leadership in establishing an international coalition to help the Libyan people.
Obama also jokingly asked for good seats at the World Cup, which Qatar will host in 2022. The emir said he would not forget him, CBS News reporter Mark Knoller reported.
Qatar is home to the largest US air base in the Middle East and diplomatic and economic relations between the two countries run deep.
Taking advantage of the president’s attention, the emir emphasized his commitment to the Palestinian people, a message he had shared last week during a talk at the Los Angeles World Affairs Council.
According to a transcript of the talks from the White House, Al Thani said:
And, of course, the most important issue for us in the region is that Palestine-Israeli conflict and how to find a way to establish a Palestinian state.
And we do understand your position, Mr. President, in supporting the existence of two states peacefully living side by side, and we support your position.
Photo courtesy of The White House blog.