WASHINGTON — In an easing of administration language surrounding Qatar and last summer’s blockade of the Gulf nation, President Trump welcomed Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to the White House today and praised the emir for fighting terrorism for “a number of years.”
“He’s a friend of mine. Knew him long before I entered the world of politics. He’s a great gentleman. He’s very popular in his country. His people love him,” Trump said. “We’re working on unity in that part of the Middle East, and I think it’s working out very well. There are a lot of good things happening.”
Trump also heralded the emir for buying “a lot of equipment from us.”
“A lot of purchases in the United States, and a lot of military airplanes, missiles. Lots of different things. But they’ve been great friends in so many ways, and we’re working very well together. And I think it’s working out extremely well,” he said.
Tamim praised the economic and military partnerships between the two countries, noting “the heart of fighting terrorism is from Al Udeid Base.”
“And thank God it’s been a very successful campaign against the terrorist groups around our region,” he added.
In June, Trump said at a press conference that “the nation of Qatar, unfortunately, has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level.”
“And in the wake of that conference, nations came together and spoke to me about confronting Qatar over its behavior,” Trump said, referencing his recent trip to Riyadh. “So we had a decision to make: Do we take the easy road or do we finally take a hard but necessary action? We have to stop the funding of terrorism.”
The president said then that “the time had come to call on Qatar to end its funding — they have to end that funding — and its extremist ideology in terms of funding.”
Today, Trump said that “Tamim and I have been working for a number of years, now, actually, even before the fact, on terrorism.”
“And we’re making sure that terrorism funding is stopped in the countries that we are really related to. Because I feel related,” he added. “But those countries are stopping the funding of terrorism. That includes UAE. It includes Saudi Arabia. It includes Qatar, and others. A lot of countries were funding terrorism, and we’re stopping it. It’s getting stopped, and fast. Very important. And you’ve now become a very big advocate. We appreciate that.”
Tamim said, “I want to make something very clear, Mr. President. We do not, and we will not, tolerate with people who fund terrorism. We’ve been cooperating with the United States of America to stop funding terrorism around the region. We do not tolerate with people who support and fund terrorism.”
The emir also thanked Trump and the American people for being “supportive” during the GCC blockade.