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UK expects Qatar’s high-level participation in 3rd GAVI donor conference, says envoy

UK expects Qatar’s high-level participation 
in 3rd GAVI donor conference, says envoy

Ailyn Agonia
British Ambassador to Qatar HE Jon Wilks has expressed hope to see a high-level participation of Qatar in the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation’s (GAVI) third donor pledging conference to be hosted by the UK on June 4.
Gavi is a global health partnership of public and private sector organisations created in 2000 dedicated to the immunisation for all.
The Global Vaccine Summit 2020 London (virtual conference) will be participated by many countries, including Qatar, and aims to mobilise at least $7.4 billion in additional resources to protect the next generation with vaccines, especially children in the world’s poorest countries.
During the first virtual press conference hosted by Ambassador Wilks since his arrival in Doha in March on Monday, he reiterated the importance of the summit for Britain as it plays a leading role in working with many developed countries to extend assistance to nations with weaker health sectors and economies.
“Gavi has saved over 13 million lives in the recent years and the UK is a top donor for this. UK will attempt to build this cooperation between countries to help those nations in need not just for COVID-19 but for other illnesses like measles, typhoid and polio. It is about fair access to protect the poorest,” the envoy said.
“On the participation of Qatar in the conference, we are still waiting for their final decisions but we are hoping for a high-level participation and also that Qatar will make another substantial financial contribution as it has done in the past,” he added.
Ambassador Wilks said that the UK government is “extremely grateful” to the Qatar government for the role of Qatar Airways in helping repatriate millions of British travellers who were stranded in different parts of the world due to the coronavirus outbreak.
He said while other airlines closed since March due to the pandemic, Qatar Airways stayed open for transit and have brought back home a lot of British nationals.
On the current status of cooperation between Qatar and the UK, Ambassador Wilks said the medical research cooperation between the two countries, which has started before the pandemic, has now made combatting and tackling the virus part of the continuing work.
He said, “We’ve had some research cooperation on genomes, looking at the database of DNA of citizens in Qatar and the UK. We did this before the virus. But of course a lot of research is looking now if there is genetic link between people who get this virus. This cooperation is continuing.”
The envoy also expressed UK’s support to Qatar’s preparation for the FIFA World Cup in 2022.
He said discussions between experts as well as senior officials between the two countries have continued.
“We will return in coming weeks and months to more of this business as usual because we passed the peak stage of the virus in the UK. So, we are doing more and more business as usual. We want to be one of the primary partners for Qatar in delivering a successful World Cup. That is important to us and a priority for us as it is for Qatar,” he said.
The envoy stressed that the UK wants to build partnership with Qatar to ensure both prosperity and security of the two countries.
The Qatari investment into the UK is estimated over £37bn. Qatari gas exports to the UK are the source of around 15 to 20 percent of the UK’s gas needs, while the total trade in goods and services (bilateral trade i.e. exports plus imports) between the UK and Qatar was £7.2bn at the end of the fourth quarter of 2019. This is an increase of 37.2 percent or £1.9bn at the end of the fourth quarter of 2018.
In reference to the pressing regional issues, Ambassador Wilks said the UK will continue as best as it can to create the atmosphere for the resolution of the differences, including among the Gulf states.