The State of Qatar on Wednesday announced the conclusion of a 5-billion-euro deal with the Republic of Italy to buy 7 Italian naval vessels within the framework of military cooperation between the two countries.
In a joint press conference held here today with his Italian counterpart Angelino Alfano, HE Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, said that the deal comes within the framework of a military cooperation program between the two countries according to which the Qatari Emiri Naval Forces (QENF) will receive 7 Italian naval vessels.
The Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs' visit to the State of Qatar has also witnessed the signing of other agreements between the two investment agencies in both countries to consider joint projects and exchange of opportunities between the two sides, HE the Foreign Minister added.
HE Foreign Minister said: 'We have strong political and economic relations with Italy and important cooperation in defense and security fields along with the continued political consultation between the two countries."
HE Foreign Minister said that his Italian counterpart held a series of talks with HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and Qatari officials in addition to the bilateral talks held between with both sides.
Talks dealt with bilateral ties between the State of Qatar and Italy and the developments of the Gulf crisis, especially the outcomes of the Manama meeting which brought together the four countries laying siege to the State of Qatar, HE the Minister said.
The two parties agree on the need to respect international law, no matter how acute the dispute is, and to engage all parties in a constructive dialogue, HE Foreign Minister said, stressing that the question of the region's security shall not be subject to such measures in the future.
He said that he briefed his Italian counterpart on the developments and negative repercussions of the siege at the economic and humanitarian levels along with the illegal measures being imposed by the siege countries against the State of Qatar.
HE Al-Thani also reviewed with the visiting Italian top diplomat the legal procedures taken by the State of Qatar to address these illegal issues.
The Foreign Minister said that he had assured his Italian counterpart that the crisis was fabricated since its outbreak, which started with a cybercrime that was followed by these measures taken by the siege countries on the basis of that crime and had no political basis as being claimed by the siege countries.
The overall crisis lacks good intentions as evidenced by the behavior of siege countries, HE the Foreign Minister said, referring in this regard to the Manama meeting's outcomes and final communique, which was based on the 13 demands that were initially considered as null.
With regard to the contradictions reflected in the siege countries' positions, HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani pointed out that this contradiction is the biggest evidence of the behavior of these countries, which have no good intentions to resolve the issue.
Renewing the 13 demands at the Manama meeting considered as null after 10 days of their submission is the biggest evidence of a behavior that does not harbor good intentions to resolve the issue, HE the Foreign Minster said.
As for the Saudi foreign minister shaking hands with his Iranian counterpart, while the siege countries call on Qatar to reduce its diplomatic representation with Tehran, the Foreign Minister explained that this is a matter which only concerns the two countries.
While Qatar does not control or interfere in bilateral relations even those involving siege countries, it requests non-interference in the internal affairs of states, he went on saying.
On the next steps, HE the Foreign Minister stressed that the State of Qatar has advocated dialogue since the beginning of the crisis as a best way to resolve it, stressing in this context the importance of Kuwaiti mediation.
The State of Qatar did not set any conditions for entering into a dialogue except the availability of logical conditions and logical and legal context, HE the Foreign Minister added.
The basis of the dialogue is to withdraw the illegal measures taken by siege countries and to refrain from violating the sovereignty of any state, HE Al-Thani said, stressing that there should be no dictates from states to another state but collective obligations instead.
This is the Qatari proposal, HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani stressed.
On the US delegates announced by the US Secretary of State, HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said that all international efforts are in support of Kuwaiti mediation.
HH the Emir of Kuwait is the mediator and he is the one who sets the course of action, he said, pointing out to the importance of the role being played by US to resolve the crisis.
The US President had delegated his Secretary of State to lead the US efforts, but there are steps to be followed, that is why the Secretary of State announced that he will send delegates for follow up and to enhance mediation efforts, HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani added.
For his part, Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano described his visit to Qatar as well as his talks here as successful, saying that his talks dealt with a range of bilateral issues including political, economic and cultural aspects.
While stressing on the important and excellent relations between Rome and Doha, Alfano said that his country was happy with the levels reached in the development of relations in all domains. Italy, he said, supports Qatar's plans at international level.
Alfano pointed out that there are many Italian companies operating in Qatar and contributing to the completion of several projects, most notably the Doha Metro and stadiums for the World Cup 2022, adding that there are also many architects who are working on the development of Msheireb Downtown Doha and other strategic projects in Hamad Port.
Italian companies are ready to support Qatari economic achievements, he said, adding: "We are also interested in defense matters between us and the State of Qatar." The Italian Foreign Minister said that the agreement signed by the two sides during his current visit to Qatar included the supply of 7 naval vessels to the Qatari Emiri Naval Forces.
In trade and economic fields, Alfano said that he discussed with HE Chief Executive Officer of Qatar Investment Authority Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Saud Al-Thani the growing Qatari investments in Italy.
Praising the cultural cooperation between his country and the State of Qatar, HE the Italian Foreign Minister said that he met today with HE Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of Qatar Museums Authority Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad Al-Thani.
During his visit to the Museum of Islamic Art, he was introduced to Qatari heritage. Alfano stressed Italy's keen interest in cultural matters and supporting this in defense of the Qatari heritage. "We in Italy carry out cultural diplomacy, which is part of our foreign diplomacy, and we working with Qatar to develop the digital technology sector of Qatari museums," he said, adding that his country is working to organize meetings to advance cooperation between the Italian cultural heritage and the Islamic heritage.
The Italian Foreign Minister stressed that Italy supports the political dialogue between his country and the State of Qatar at the highest level, praising the depth of relations between Doha and Rome, adding that today's talks and agreements added a lot in this regard. While hailing Qatar and Italy's joint actions, he said: "We are working together to promote and develop our strong relations."
On the Gulf crisis, Alfano said that Italy is following it closely, calling for de-escalation, and the need to pursue diplomatic means to solve it.
He voiced his concern over the humanitarian impact of the crisis, stressing that his country seeks to strengthen confidence between the parties to the crisis so that all efforts would focus on the common enemy which is terrorism at the international and regional levels. He stressed at the same time Italy's support for dialogue and understanding between Qatar and the US and the memorandum of understanding on combating terrorism recently signed by the two countries in Doha.
Alfano said he shared with HE Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani the importance of moderation in addressing the crisis, calling for respect for international laws "because that makes us avoid escalation through diplomatic channels."
On whether he is going to visit the siege countries, he said that his current visit to the region is limited to Qatar, but pointed out that there were telephone conversations between him and his colleagues in the siege countries, and that he had sent a clear message calling for dialogue, good intentions and moderation among countries and supporting the mediation and wisdom of HH the Emir of the State of Kuwait in order to de-escalate and return things to normal.