US hopes to name Qatar as major non-NATO ally, official says
Reuters, , Thursday 17 Sep 2020


The United States hopes to move forward with naming Qatar as a major non-NATO ally, a status that provides foreign nations with benefits in defense trade and security cooperation, a senior US official said on Thursday.

"We're going to move ahead, we hope, with designating Qatar a major non-NATO ally," Timothy Lenderking, the US deputy assistant secretary of state for Arabian Gulf affairs, told reporters in a conference call.

US and Qatari officials, including US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Qatar Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, met in Washington earlier this week.

“Major non-NATO ally” (MNNA) status gives a country preferential access to US military equipment and technology, including free surplus material, expedited export processing and prioritized cooperation on training.

Qatar's Government Communications Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Currently 17 countries have MNNA status, including Gulf Arab states Kuwait and Bahrain, which hosts the US Navy's Fifth Fleet.

Qatar, host of the largest US military facility in the Middle East, has been locked in a dispute with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt since 2017.

Washington has strong ties with all the states involved and sees the rift as a threat to efforts to contain Iran. It has pushed for a united Gulf front.

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