Last year, Qatar announced plans to invest some £10 billion in the UK’s economy under a strategic investment deal.
Qatar and the United Kingdom engaged in discussions over “close cooperation” in numerous fields on Tuesday during the visit of London’s foreign secretary to Doha as part of a regional tour.
“A historic partnership with a bright future. Closer cooperation on security, defence and economy benefits both our countries,” James Cleverly, the UK’s foreign minister, said in a tweet.
Qatar was the first stop for Cleverly who is on a three-day regional tour that includes Kuwait and Jordan.
The British diplomat held several meetings with top Qatari officials upon his arrival to the Gulf state, including Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.
During the meeting between the two foreign ministers, Sheikh Mohammed and Cleverly discussed regional and international issues, including the Iranian nuclear deal, Afghanistan’s situation, the Syrian crisis and the Palestinian cause.
The UK is a member of the p4+1—which also includes France, Russia, China, plus Germany—which had engaged in talks since 2021 in Vienna over the restoration of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Doha had stepped in last year as an interlocutor between the United States and Iran in an effort to revive the JCPOA. The nuclear file appeared to gain momentum recently after a long period of stalemate, with recent visits by Qatari officials to Tehran.
During their discussions over Afghanistan’s situation, Sheikh Mohammed and Cleverly stressed “the importance of the international community’s support for the fraternal Afghan people”, the Qatari foreign ministry said in a statement.
The Qatari and British diplomats also “expressed their deep concern about the deteriorating situation” in the occupied West Bank and “the absence of prospects for peace, especially in light of the internal crisis in Israel.”
“During the meeting, HE Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom praised Qatar’s foreign policy, flexibility and credibility toward all parties, as well as praising its success in hosting the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, stressing that it will have a positive impact on Qatar’s economy,” the Qatari foreign ministry statement added.
Cleverly also met with Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs Dr. Khalid Al Attiyah at the Dukhan Air Base.
“The meeting dealt with discussing issues of joint interest and reviewed the cooperation relations between the two sides, and ways to enhance and develop them,” Qatar’s state-news agency reported.
Defence has been a central part of Qatar and the UK’s strategic ties, with Qatari and British officials from the sector holding regular meetings and signing numerous agreements.
The UK was among a number of countries that helped maintain security at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
In 2021, the two countries cooperated in the ‘Watan’ exercise which tested the preparation for the World Cup.
The Qatari Amiri Air Force had received the joint Qatar-UK Typhoon Squadron, 12 Squadron, at the Dukhan Airbase in October last year as part of an air protection agreement dedicated to securing the major sporting event.
The Joint Typhoon Squadron, also known as 12 Squadron, is the UK’s first joint squadron since World War II and is headquartered at the Royal Air Force Coningsby in Lincolnshire.
The two countries also inked a major £5 billion agreement in 2017, pertaining the purchase of 24 typhoon combat jets.
Meanwhile, Qatar and the UK share strong economic ties, with bilateral trade reaching significant levels in recent years.
In 2022, the UK exported £36 billion ($45 billion) worth of services and goods to the GCC countries, highlighting potential for further growth and cooperation.
During the same year, Qatar announced plans to invest some £10 billion in the UK’s economy under a strategic investment deal, signed during Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani’s visit to the UK.
“The State of Qatar intends to leverage the opportunities provided by the Qatar-UK Strategic Investment Partnership to explore the deployment of this capital to invest in sectors which are vital for shared prosperity,” read the joint communiqué at the time.