White House press secretary Josh Earnest said President Barack Obama met with the leader of Qatar on Tuesday because the common goals of the two countries outweigh their differences.
TheBlaze asked Earnest about Obama’s meeting the Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani at a time when the president has refused to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Qatar has sent hundreds of millions of dollars to Gaza since 2007, when Hamas took control of the region, and has been accused of supporting terrorism.
“There is no foreign leader with whom the president has spent more time than Prime Minister Netanyahu,” Earnest told TheBlaze. “That is a testament to the deep and ongoing security relationship that exists between the United States and Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu himself has said that the level of security coordination between the United States and Israel under the leadership of President Obama is unprecedented.”
The White House has said that Obama will not meet with Netanyahu when he is in Washington next week because it is too close to the March 17 Israeli election, and the administration wants to avoid the appearance of trying to influence an election.
Qatar has allowed U.S. coalition forces to use its al-Udeid air base for airstrikes against Islamic State targets, but the Qatari government recently criticized Egypt for its airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Libya in retaliation to the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians.
“Like all partnerships, especially in this region of the world, the United States does not necessarily agree with the Qatari government on every issue,” Earnest said. “But we have the kind of relationship that allows us to be frank and open about where we disagree and why. The bottom line is that our interests with Qatar converge somewhat more often than they diverge.”
“Qatar has been significant on a range of regional issues in Afghanistan, Iran. As you know, the Qataris have even agreed to host a regional training site for the regional opposition,” Earnest added. “So we certainly welcome the efforts of the Qataris in this broad international coalition to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL. We also know the Qataris have committed to working with us in other aspects against ISIL too, particularly as it relates to terror financing.”
Obama said that he and the Qatar leader discussed terrorism issues.
“We also had an opportunity to discuss a wide range of other areas where there's significant turmoil, Libya, Yemen, and I think had a significant meeting of the minds in our shared belief that the more that we can work with all the countries in the region to try to find political solutions to problems, the more that we can reduce sectarian tensions in the regions and isolate violent extremists, the more effective we can be,” Obama said.
The emir said the United States and Qatar “share the same view” on terror groups in the region, and mostly talked about the Palestinians.
“We're all fighting terrorism and make sure that the reason why this happened doesn't happen again,” Al Thani said. “We mentioned about the situation in Palestine and about the peace process and what is the best for Palestine and it is an important subject in the Middle East, and we have to find a solution for Palestine, and I'm happy to learn and to hear from you that you're committed to finding this peace process in Palestine.”