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Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Qatar-Spain presser touches on Palestine, Iran and World Cup 2022

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The Madrid diplomat met with her Doha counterpart to discuss areas of common concern within the Gulf region and beyond.

Spain’s Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya met with Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in Doha on Wednesday, following previous stops in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

The Spanish diplomat also held a press conference with Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani where the two officials delved into issues concerning the Gulf region and world, including the shared economic relations between Qatar and Spain, sports and foreign affairs.

During the conference, Laya and the Qatari FM announced the signing of an agreement designed to boost cooperation in the cultural and sports fields for both countries.

The Qatari official also thanked Spain for its support of FIFA World Cup 2022 projects, which is scheduled to take place next year.

Read also: Could Qatar’s strategic location help allay US-Iran tensions?

Spanish companies have played a significant role in the development of the World Cup’s infrastructure projects, including the metro, airport, as well as road work.

Three of the eight World Cup 2022 stadiums were designed by prominent Spanish architecture firm Fenwick Iribarren Architects.

Spain has also been assisting Qatar in enhancing its sports culture and has provided the Gulf state with sports medicine professionals. Spanish players also play with local Qatari football teams. 

Support of Palestinians

Speaking at the presser, Qatar’s foreign minister also commended Spain’s continuous efforts in supporting Palestinians living under the illegal Israeli occupation.

“We appreciate Spain’s role in various regional issues, particularly the Palestinian case and its firm position in supporting the two-state solution,” said Al Thani.

Last year, Palestine and Spain reportedly signed a memorandum of understanding worth $112 million, mainly to ensure economic development and cooperation for the next four years. The agreement supports Palestine’s employment sector and its economy, agriculture and water sector.

Qatar has also been repeatedly reaffirming its firm position towards Palestine, especially since its neighbours – the UAE and Bahrain – normalised relations with Israel. 

Iran nuclear deal

Also on the agenda during the meeting was the fate of the Iran nuclear deal considering the change of leadership in the White House.

Former US President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement in 2018 and imposed stifling sanctions on Iran.

Qatar’s foreign minister said Doha has been in contact with both the Americans and Iranians sides, calling for a return to the historic deal.

“Iran is a neighbouring state and what happens in the region reflects on us directly and the United States is a strategic ally and it’s important to not see any escalations,” he said.

The 2015 nuclear deal, dubbed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPA], was signed between Iran and the P5+1 – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Germany – to limit Tehran’s nuclear weapon production in exchange for the lifting of sanctions on the country.

The new Biden Administration recently started looking into a potential revival of the deal, though no announcements have yet been made public.

Meanwhile, analysts believe Qatar, which has offered to mediate between the US and Iran, can play a crucial role in calming tensions between the two states.

“It should be understood that Qatar’s role here is not going to be easy, but its geographic location, its hosting of American troops, and its importance for security for the GCC countries necessitate its full engagement,” Dr. Imad Harb, Director of Research, Arab Center in Washington DC, told Doha News.


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