The government in Doha is “sandwiched between two powerful forces in the region—Iran to the north and Saudi Arabia to the south,” the foreign minister noted at CFTNI.
Secretary of State Tillerson welcomed the FM to the United States:
At State, Tillerson told the gathered reporters that the foreign minister is “a frequent visitor, but he’s always welcome.”
The visit by Qatar’s top diplomat comes at a time of continued impasse between his government and the other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, principally Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, over Doha’s relationship with Iran and its alleged funding of extremist groups.
Tillerson noted the timely importance of the FM’s visit:
“We have a number of important things to discuss, obviously, so pleased he’s here,” Tillerson said.
Al Thani’s address at CFTNI was attended by a number of prominent figures, including:
Former director of national intelligence John Negroponte, former U.S. ambassador to Germany Richard Burt, and former under secretary of defense (comptroller) Dov Zakheim as well current ambassadors from Singapore and Belgium.
The Foreign Minister warned against power grabs in the region:
Al Thani said: “What we see, is this intervention, is exactly the same method used against Qatar, trying to pressure them… into submission. This is the risk we have in the region: that powerful countries are trying to take control of other nations’ decisions. We cannot have a system within the Arab world where power is consolidated in one or two countries. This cannot be accepted in the twenty-first century.”