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Qatar’s emir heads to Washington next week, report

Discussions are likely to include Iran negotiations, Afghanistan and a US effort to provide alternative energy supplies to Europe in the event Russia invades Ukraine.
Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani prepares to speak at the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 24, 2019, in New York City.

Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani will visit Washington on Jan. 31, Reuters reported today, citing two sources familiar with the matter.

The emir’s meetings with top US officials are likely to cover a range of issues, including ongoing international negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program and talks with the Taliban over its governance in Afghanistan.

US officials are also expected to discuss the Biden administration’s efforts to urge energy-producing countries to help supply Europe with natural gas and crude oil should Russia invade Ukraine.

The administration revealed the discussions with governments and firms in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia during a telephone briefing with reporters on Tuesday morning.

American officials expect their efforts to “ensure alternative supplies cover a significant majority of [Europe’s] potential shortfall” in case “Russia decides to weaponize its supply of natural gas or crude oil” to dissuade European economic penalties against Moscow, an official told reporters today.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, declined to say which countries the United States was approaching with the proposal.

Qatar has also played a lead role in Afghanistan diplomacy, standing in for the United States, which does not have diplomatic relations with the Taliban government

US officials have praised Qatar’s support for last-minute military evacuations of tens of thousands of Afghan civilians from Kabul International Airport amid the US and NATO withdrawal last August.

Qatar and Turkey are reportedly once again in talks with the Taliban about providing personnel to run the airport.

Reuters last week cited Turkish sources as saying the two countries had reached a preliminary agreement to provide security at the airport, which serves as Afghanistan’s main gateway to desperately needed international humanitarian aid.

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