Qatar, France to deepen ties, help Afghan reconciliation

Doha: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs H E Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani described the Qatar-France relations as deep and historic, during a joint press conference with Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of the French Republic H E Jean-Yves Le Drian, in Doha yesterday.

The Foreign Minister said that the two sides discussed during their meeting the bilateral relations and ways to strengthen and deepen them, in addition to discussing future opportunities to strengthen and consolidate this cooperation. 

He said on international issues the situation in Afghan took the largest part of the discussion,  particularly about providing humanitarian aid and trying to create an international consensus on establishing mechanisms to provide aid and deliver it to those in need, stressing State of Qatar’s continued provision of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. 

He referred to the flights undertaken by the State of Qatar to Afghanistan, which carried humanitarian aid, in addition to two flights that carried passengers of different nationalities, stressing the continuation of the State of Qatar in these efforts and cooperation with all countries and United Nations agencies in this regard.

Both sides stressed the need to continue consultation regarding the Afghan issue, especially concerning the recent security and political developments in Afghanistan. Regarding the results of his recent visit to Afghanistan and his meetings with officials of the transitional government and Afghan leaders, he pointed out that the meetings focused on the importance of advancing national reconciliation, ensuring freedom of passage and travel for all, and providing guarantees for the rights and safety of the Afghan people. 

He added that they also discussed Kabul International Airport and development work there, emphasising the importance of strengthening efforts with all parties to combat the threat of terrorism.

Sheikh Mohammed valued efforts made by former Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Chairman of the Afghan National Reconciliation Committee Abdullah Abdullah in the negotiations hosted by Doha and assured them of Qatar’s support for all efforts that would achieve Afghan national reconciliation as the core for the future stability of Afghanistan.

Sheikh Mohammed stressed that the State of Qatar’s support for the rights of all Afghan people, stressing the need to preserve those rights and not accepting any violation of anyone, especially the Afghan woman, noting that Qatar contributed to the safe transfer of many at-risk Afghan women out of Afghanistan. 

H E the Foreign Minister urged the Taliban to preserve the gains of the Afghan people and the importance of respecting women’s rights and their role in development in Afghanistan, calling on them to take examples of many Islamic countries, including Qatar, in which women exercise their rights fully and constructively, where women represent the largest segment of the workforce in the government, and the rate of women’s enrolment in higher education exceeds that of men.

On the recognition of the government of Afghanistan, he explained that his recent discussions with the government there focused on encouraging them to engage with the international community, saying: “We told them that isolation was not the answer, and that recognition is not a priority, but engagement with the international community is the way forward for all of us. And we are convinced that insisting on the issue of recognition at the present time will not help any party.” Addressing the press conference, H E Jean-Yves Le Drian praised the constructive and exceptional role of the State of Qatar in the Afghan crisis, praising its support in evacuating French and Afghan nationals from Kabul.

He said he was visiting Doha for consultation on the Afghan issue and strengthening the very rich partnership between Qatar and France on several issues, adding that there are strong, solid and old relations between France and Qatar, as the State of Qatar is a friend and strong partner with whom France has a close dialogue.

He described his discussion as constructive, friendly and frank regarding the bilateral partnership and regional files. He stressed that the two countries are keen to enhance security and stability in the region.

He added that his visit to Doha translates the common will to deepen bilateral cooperation in several areas such as security, economy, culture and sports.

Le Drian announced that it was agreed to hold a strategic dialogue between Qatar and France before the end of 2021 to evaluate the partnership between the two countries and discuss ways and means to enhance it in all fields.

In response to a question regarding the position on the Afghan situation, he said that there are demands by the international community from the Taliban authorities, including freedom of movement and unimpeded travel, respect for basic human rights, women’s and girls’ rights, a severance with all forms of terrorism, and the delivery of humanitarian assistance to every region in Afghanistan under the supervision of the UN organisations, and the formation of a transitional government with an executive capacity.

These demands were confirmed by the Security Council resolution issued in late August, and within the framework of various meetings, including the meeting of European Union foreign ministers, which was held at the end of last week, he added.

He said the authorities in Kabul are not responding to the demands of the international community. He pointed out that the international community was waiting for an expanded government, but this did not happen and is looking for actions, not words, stressing the need to continue to pressure at all levels so that the authorities in Kabul meet the aspirations set by the Taliban themselves.

Jean-Yves Le Drian indicated that the Afghan issue will be present in the meetings of the United Nations General Assembly, which will be held next week.

The French Minister referred to his country’s efforts and success during the past weeks in evacuating a large number of French nationals and some Afghans at risk from Afghanistan with the support of the State of Qatar, stressing his country’s keenness to continue this cooperation to complete the evacuation of the remaining French nationals and their families from Kabul as well as vulnerable Afghans.

As seen on Peninsula Qatar  Image Credits Peninsula Qatar