U.S. inks anti-terror deal with Qatar
Tillerson heads next to Saudi Arabia, which has closed land border to besieged Gulf nation
DOHA, QATAR » U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sealed a deal Tuesday to intensify Qatar’s counterterrorism efforts, tackling a central issue in the spat pitting the besieged Gulf nation against four other American allies lined up against it.
Tillerson outlined the agreement at the end of his first visit to Qatar since its neighbors moved to isolate it over grievances, including what they allege is its support for extremist groups.
It was his second stop on a shuttle-diplomacy circuit that will take him next to Saudi Arabia, which has shut Qatar’s only land border and is the most powerful of the countries opposing it.
The centerpiece of the visit was the signing of a memorandum of understanding that lays out steps Qatar can take to bolster its fight against terrorism and address shortfalls in policing terrorism funding.
Tillerson said the deal, the details of which were not made public, has been in the works for a while and included some steps that have been taken already.
“Together, the United States and Qatar will do more to track down funding sources, will do more to collaborate and share information, and will do more to keep the region and our homeland safe,” he said following talks with 37-year-old Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
Tillerson also gave besieged Qatar some political backing before his talks in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday. “I think Qatar has been quite clear in its positions and, I think, very reasonable,” he said.
Although largely symbolic, the deal allows Tillerson to show some progress in his first major attempt at global mediation as secretary of state and bolsters President Donald Trump’s claim to be ramping up the fight against terror financing.
Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, the Kuwaiti emir who is mediating the dispute, said Tuesday he is “extremely concerned” about the crisis, and expressed “bitterness” over what he called “unprecedented developments,” without elaborating.