Italy is Qatar’s eighth largest trade partner.
Qatar and Italy’s Foreign Ministers expressed their support for a diplomatic solution between Russia and Ukraine during a high-level meeting in Rome. This came during the first Qatar-Italy strategic dialogue on Tuesday.
Qatar was represented by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani. Italy was represented by its Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Luigi Di Maio. The diplomats discussed regional and international developments as well as Qatar and Italy’s bilateral ties.
Russia-Ukraine tensions were part of the international issues the officials discussed.
According to Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), Sheikh Mohammed stated his country’s “position in support of resolving crises through diplomatic means and dialogue”. On his part, Di Maio said that Italy working “to discourage any military conflict”.
Sheikh Mohammed and Di Maio reviewed the developments in Afghanistan. The diplomats discussed the importance of the Taliban to fulfill “their obligations to the international community”.
Sheikh Mohammed briefed his Italian counterpart on the evacuation process and the developments in operations at Kabul’s airport. The Italian official thanked Qatar for evacuating more than 1000 Italian citizens and Afghan nationals and moving its Kabul embassy to Doha.
Following the Taliban takeover of Kabul on 15 August, Italy joined other countries in moving its consulate from Afghanistan to Qatar.
Nuclear talks over the revival of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was also amongst the meeting’s agenda. Qatar’s foreign minister told a press conference in Rome that the Middle East needs to be free of nuclear weapons.
“We seek to work together to reach an agreement to put an end to the escalation and achieve stability in the Gulf,” said Al-Thani.
Italy’s Foreign Minister added that isolating Iran is not an option.
The ongoing illegal occupation of Palestine was another issue addressed by the Foreign Ministers.
Sheikh Mohammed said that Qatar believes that establishing a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders is the only way to achieve peace. He called on action to address escalations and infringement on Palestinians’ rights.
The two sides also spoke about the developments in Libya and expressed their hope for a political solution in the country to achieve stability.
The high-profile meeting comes ahead of the celebration of the 30th anniversary of Qatar and Italy’s establishment of diplomatic ties. Next year’s Qatari-Italian strategic dialogue is going to take place in Doha.
Sheikh Mohammed said the strategic dialogue “compliments” Doha and Rome’s “long-term vision related to developing the bilateral relationship in various fields”.
Di Maio also said the meeting “represents an effective system for enhanced dialogue that covers important issues at the bilateral and regional levels.”
Both countries said they plan to expand their cultural cooperation by appointing an Italian cultural attache in Doha.
The two countries’ partnership increased by more than 320% in the past decade. This makes Italy the Gulf state’s eighth largest trading partner.
Qatar and Italy’s trade exchanges grew by 56% in the first 10 months of 2021.
Beyond their economic cooperation, Doha and Rome maintain strong defence ties. In 2017, Qatar sealed an over $5 billion deal to purchase seven navy vessels. This deal came after Italy’s state-controlled shipbuilder, Fincantieri, announced another major agreement with Qatar. Fincantieri said it was going to provide the Gulf state with four corvette warships.
The company delivered the first ship to Qatar in 2021 out of the four vessels. The Al Zubarah corvettes can accommodate 112 passengers and help with sea rescue and surveillance. During the same year, Qatar and Italy’s police agreed to collaborate on 2022 FIFA World Cup security. In January, Qatar reportedly purchased six Leonardo M-346 jet trainers as part of a 2020 defence deal.
Other strategic dialogues
Qatar holds annual strategic dialogues with a number of countries. During those meetings, key diplomats exchange views on strengthening cooperation in various sectors.
In 2018, Qatar and the US inaugurated their strategic dialogue. The latest such meeting took place in November last year. During the fourth strategic dialogue last year, Qatar and the US signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to represent Washington’s interest in Afghanistan. This was in light of the US closing its embassy following the Taliban takeover.
Qatar and Turkey also host annual strategic dialogue, where officials meet either in the Gulf state or Ankara.
In total, Qatar and Turkey held seventh annual strategic dialogue meetings.
In February, 2019, Qatar and France agreed to establish a strategic dialogue. Doha described the move as :a qualitative leap for the distinguished strategic partnership between the two countries”.
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