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President Biden met with Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, the emir of Qatar, at the White House on Monday and told him he’s strengthening the U.S. alliance with the kingdom as the West faces a potential energy crisis if Russia invades Ukraine and cuts off gas supply to Europe.
“Qatar is a good friend and reliable partner,” Biden said. “And I’m notifying Congress that I will designate Qatar as a major non-NATO ally to reflect the importance of the importance of our relationship.”
During an appearance with the emir in the Oval Office, Biden expressed gratitude to the leader of the oil-rich country for its recent assistance with many interests vital to the United States, such as maintaining stability in Gaza and helping to evacuate tens of thousands of helpers and U.S. citizens from Afghanistan amid the U.S. military withdrawal last summer.
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As the second-biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the world, Qatar stands poised to be an important asset as 100,000 Russian troops mass on the Ukrainian border. Russia supplies roughly 40% of Europe’s natural gas, and concerns are growing that Moscow might use that as leverage if antagonism escalates with NATO over Russia’s ongoing aggression toward Ukraine.
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Energy analysts who spoke to the AP, however, warned that Qatar is producing gas supply at full capacity already and much of it is contracted to countries in Asia.
During the briefing, during which he took no questions, Biden assured reporters that his call with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy last week was “productive” and that “we continue to engage nonstop diplomacy and to deescalate tensions and the to improve security for our allies.”
Qatar will host the 2022 World Cup later this year, which has drawn scrutiny from rights groups — fueled by player protests — and indignation from some World Cup organizers regarding the Gulf nation’s record on human rights.
Fox News’ Breck Dumas and The Associated Press contributed to this report.