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Arab Spring brings Qatar closer to US, says envoy

RAJESH MISHRA

DOHA The US Ambassador to Qatar His Excellency Joseph LeBaron has said that Qatar's role in the Arab Spring had not only brought it closer to the US but also closer to those countries in the Arab world, which supported socio-political reforms.

In an exclusive interview with Qatar Tribune on Sunday, HE LeBaron remarked, "Qatar's leadership supports reforms as does the US.

The two countries are seeing eye-to-eye on this particular issue.

Qatar has played an important role in the Arab Spring." He added: "Qatar's ability to speak out its mind on the uprisings has also brought it closer to countries such as Tunisia and Egypt, which support reforms." The outgoing US envoy said that the US would like to cooperate with Qatar not only in the field of commerce and trade but also in matters military and cited the joint operation in Libya as a case in point.

About the cooperation in education, the envoy said that US was committed to facilitating Qatar's transition from a hydrocarbon-driven economy to a knowledge-based economy.

Responding to a query on the two-way trade volume between Qatar and the US, he said that the trade volume had gone up by 16 percent last year compared to the previous year and added that it was all set to increase further with Qatar starting LNG shipments to the Golden Pass Terminal located between Texas and Louisiana.

The Golden Pass LNG Terminal (70 percent Qatar Petroleum, 17.6 percent ExxonMobil and 12.4 percent ConocoPhillips) received its commissioning cargo from Qatar in October last year, about one year behind schedule.

The terminal includes two shipping berths, five 5.47-MMcf LNG storage tanks and two gas vaporisation trains.

According to the US envoy, US exports to Qatar had increased 500 times between 2003 and 2009, going up to $2.7 billion in 2009 from $454 million in 2003.

The total worth of two-way trade in 2009 was $3.1 billion, he added.

LeBaron also hailed the agreement between Qatar and the US on cooperation for food security, which was signed during the Emir His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani's visit to the US in April this year.

HH the Emir had met US President Barack Obama during his visit.

"The two countries have agreed on technical cooperation for food security, which is very important.

For the first time, the two governments have agreed to work together to fight a pressing issue, which the whole world has to tackle," HE LeBaron remarked.

LeBaron, who has served as the US Ambassador to Mauritania, Consul General in Dubai, and at the US Embassies in Jordan, Bahrain, and Turkey, said that Qatar was different from many other countries of the region in that it represented a fine combination of a strategic vision and the resources to accomplish the vision.

"I have held diplomatic positions in different countries of the region.

All the countries are different from one another.

But what distinguishes Qatar from all the others is the combination of a strategic vision and the resources to accomplish that vision.

Other countries have either the vision or the resources, not both of them," he asserted.

LeBaron said that after his retirement from government service this year, he intended to enter business and hoped to visit Qatar more often.

According to him, Qatar, despite its smaller size, had made its presence felt on the stage of world politics because of its visionary leadership.

LeBaron, who is to leave Doha by the end of July, would be replaced by Susan Ziadeh, a career diplomat who has spent a good amount of time in the Middle East.

Ziadeh is currently serving as deputy ambassador in Saudi Arabia.


Qatar’s LNG export to touch 77mn tonnes by year-end

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