UK focuses on defence ties with Qatar: Minister

January 10, 2014 - 5:17:13 am

Britain’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hugh Robertson (left), addressing the media at p the British Embassy in Doha yesterday. With him is British Ambassador Nicholas Hopton. Salim Matramkot


By Fazeena Saleem

DOHA: Defence and security are among a range of areas UK is seeking to develop its ties with Qatar, according to Hugh Robertson, British Minister of State for Foreign Affairs at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Robertson was here in Doha yesterday as part of his three- day visit to the region and held several discussions including with his Qatari counterpart H E Mohamed bin Abdullah Al Rumaihai, Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs, and members of the Supreme Committee for Qatar 2022.

“Our relationship with Qatar has been very strong, very positive and growing exactly and that’s something we are trying to move across the gulf,” said Robertson speaking at a press conference held yesterday at the British Embassy.

“Talks with the deputy foreign minister were incredibly friendly and we both agree that this relationship is likely to get stronger in the areas of common interest. We are looking at defence and security relationship, certainly looking at how we are going to the energy field, we are also very much looking at trade opportunities, and sort of culture and sports ties too,” he added.

However, he didn’t reveal specific details about areas which UK and Qatar would focus more in future.

“There are range of opportunities on the table and will be looking to work on and develop them in moths ahead but nothing that I can announce today,” said Robertson, who was previously the British Minister for Sports.

He was also optimistic that Qatar will host a very successful and unique World Cup in 2022.

“I think the Qatar 2022 is going to be one of those sports moments that redefines the way people looking at it. And the plans which they have got are incredibly exciting and its going to be a wholly different sort of football tournament held in different parts of the world,” explained Robertson.

Answering a question about the recent reports on Guardian newspaper criticising Qatar on labour issues he explained the nature of British media saying, “The English press give out stick to everyone. Having just through two and half years as the Olympic minister I have got stick from my own press including the Guardian newspaper on a regular basis.”

However, he aid: “That (nature of British media) doesn’t mean if there is a serious issue that shouldn’t be addressed. The 2022 organising committee knows what they exactly doing and taking steps to address the issue.”

Also questions and answers session of the press conference shed light on the upcoming Geneva II Middle East peace conference which aims to end the Syrian civil war by bringing together the Syrian regime and the Syrian opposition to discuss a transitional government for Syria with full executive powers.

“No one will pretend that Geneva II is going to be easy. Neither side is a coherent body anymore and it has been a long difficult and bitter conflict. I won’t under estimate the difficulties we are likely to face in Geneva. Having that said, it’s better to have a process than not to have a process,” said Robertson.

British Ambassador to Qatar Nicholas Hopton was also attended the press conference.

The Peninsula