French President Emmanuel Macron arrived, in Qatar, on Thursday, for an hours-long trip to the country amid a boycott of Doha by four Arab nations.
Immediately after landing, Macron traveled to the vast al-Udeid Air Base, home to some 10,000 American troops and the forward headquarters of the US military’s Central Command.
France also has a contingent of soldiers at the base, which is crucial to the ongoing fight against the ISIS group in Iraq and Syria and to the war in Afghanistan.
Macron smiled and shook hands with the French and American soldiers who greeted him at the base before walking into a meeting with the base’s top commanders, according to AP.
The French president later will hold talks with Qatar’s ruling emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, according to local media outlets.
The two heads of state will also chair a “meeting for bilateral cooperation in the fight against terrorism, the financing of terrorism and radicalization”, which they will commit both to renew regularly.
Macron’s visit comes just after a planned two-day Gulf Cooperation Council meeting collapsed in just a few hours over the ongoing Qatar diplomatic crisis, as Qatar is still refusing to change its policies towards terrorism and its financing activities.
“It will also be an opportunity to prepare the international conference organized on the subject in Paris in January,” said the entourage of the French president. Pierre Bousquet of Florian, national coordinator of intelligence and the fight against terrorism, is said to be accompanying Macron, according to Le Monde.
There are also reports in the French media that Macaron wants to use Qatar as a gateway to calm the atmosphere with Iran, which has become the guardian of Doha. (AlArabiya)