Meetings between officials from Doha and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) come as their ties continue to strengthen.
Qatar’s Ministry of Defence (MOD) and NATO are discussing ways to enhance their joint cooperation in Doha.
According to the MOD, Qatar’s Brigadier General Abdulaziz Saleh Al- Sulaiti led the talks with Giovanni Romani, Head of the NATO’s MENA Section of the Political Affairs and Security Policy Division.
The meeting comes days after Qatar’s envoy to the European Union and NATO, Abdulaziz bin Ahmed Al Malki, met with the alliance’s Deputy Secretary-General Mircea Geoană in Brussels.
Both meetings took place after US President Joe Biden request to designate the Gulf state as a major non-NATO ally (MNNA).
The US President announced the decision during Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani visit to Washington last month. Sheikh Tamim is the first Gulf leader to meet Biden at the White House since he took office.
Biden said the designation was in recognition of the ‘strong partnership with Qatar’ over the past 50 years and in an effort to deepen bilateral defence and security cooperation.
Qatar will be the third Gulf state to be added to the list of 17 current MNNA’s, which already includes Bahrain and Kuwait. Foreign partners on the list receive a number of benefits in areas concerning defence trade and security cooperation with the US.
The Gulf state has been a reliable US ally following the Taliban takeover of the Afghan capital Kabul last August. Qatar facilitated the largest airlift of people in history, safely evacuating up to 70,000 Afghans and foreigners.
Besides the US, Doha and the military bloc have been working on developing their ties.
Qatar formally joined the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) in 2015, a forum aimed at broadening cooperation between NATO and MENA states.
In December 2014, Qatar hosted a NATO-ICI seminar, attended by officials from the alliance and senior scholars from the Gulf region.
Then in 2015, the Gulf state became the first country in the Middle East to host the annual high-level NATO conference on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
Qatar-NATO ties expanded in 2018 after the alliance’s forces were allowed to enter and transit through Doha whilst using the Al-Udeid Air Base. The American military base is the largest in the region and hosts up to 10,000 US troops.