Qatari Emir to visit China, ROK and Japan amid Gulf crisis
CGTN

Qatar's ruler will visit China, the Republic of Korea (ROK), and Japan -- some of the energy-rich country's top trading partners -- later this month, state media reported Thursday, amid a Gulf diplomatic crisis.

Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani will sign several "agreements", the Qatar News Agency said.

"The Emir will discuss bilateral relations and strategic partnerships in various fields to serve the interests of Qatar and its friendly countries, as well as exchange views on regional and international issues of common interest," the report said.

Qatar has been isolated from its neighbors and former allies, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain, since June 2017 over accusations that it supports terrorist groups and seeks closer ties with Saudi arch-rival Iran. Doha denies the allegations. 

The Emir is scheduled to head to the Republic of Korea, Qatar's second-biggest trading partner, on January 27.

From there he will head to Japan, his country's top trading partner, and then China.

This marks the Emir's second visit to China as Qatar's ruler, having the first visit to the country in November 2014.

Relations between Doha and Beijing have grown in recent years.

China now ranks as Qatar's third-largest trading partner, with almost 11 billion U.S. dollars worth of trade in 2017, according to the Doha government's figures.

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R) and Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Qatar, co-chair the first meeting of a China-Qatar inter-governmental strategic dialogue mechanism in Beijing, China, December 12, 2018. /Xinhua Photo

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R) and Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Qatar, co-chair the first meeting of a China-Qatar inter-governmental strategic dialogue mechanism in Beijing, China, December 12, 2018. /Xinhua Photo

Among the major deals agreed between the two countries is the joint venture contract won by the China Railway Construction Corporation to build Qatar's 2022 World Cup final stadium in Lusail.

Just last month, the first meeting of a China-Qatar inter-governmental strategic dialogue mechanism was held in Beijing. The Chinese side was led by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and the Qatari delegation was headed by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.

Also, an agreement on mutual exemption of visas between China and Qatar took effect from December 21, 2018, which was earlier signed in July during Wang's visit to Doha.

"Qatar is an important member of the Arabic world. We highly value and support the development of our cooperation. China appreciates Qatar's contribution to our ties," Wang had said on the occasion, which also marked the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Qatar.

(Cover: Qatar's Emir Tamim bin Hamad al Thani in Lima, Peru, October 2, 2018. /VCG Photo)

Source(s): AFP