Trump Now Sees Qatar as an ‘Ally’

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President Trump, who last year denounced Qatar as a “funder of terrorism” and backed its rivals in a contentious regional feud, welcomed its monarch to the Oval Office on Tuesday and portrayed him as a partner in the fight against extremists.

The friendly visit represented a remarkable turnaround for a president who had once portrayed Qatar as part of the problem. But it reflected the success of an intense and expensive effort by Qatar and its paid lobbyists, including a top fund-raiser for Mr. Trump, to change its image in Washington and present it as a partner with the United States in the war on terrorism.

“We’re making sure that terrorism funding is stopped in the countries that we are really related to, because I feel related,” Mr. Trump said as he hosted Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani of Qatar. “But those countries are stopping the funding of terrorism, and that includes U.A.E. and it includes Saudi Arabia, it includes Qatar and others. A lot of countries were funding terrorism and we’re stopping it.”

Turning to the emir, Mr. Trump added, “You’ve now become a very big advocate, and we appreciate that.”

Last June, Mr. Trump stood in the Rose Garden and accepted the view of Qatar’s regional rivals, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, that the small energy-rich emirate was providing money to terrorist groups, cozying up to Iran and harboring fugitives.

Qatar, he said then, was a “funder of terror at a very high level,” and he demanded that it cut off that money flow to rejoin the circle of responsible nations. That put him at odds with Rex W. Tillerson, then his secretary of state, who sympathized with Qatar as it endured the Saudi-led boycott. Mr. Trump recently fired Mr. Tillerson for other reasons, but has now come around to his point of view.

Mr. Trump met with the emir in September on the sidelines of a United Nations meeting and promised to help broker a resolution to its dispute with its neighbors, an effort that went nowhere. Qatar, which hosts al-Udeid Air Base, home to nearly 10,000 American troops, has signed agreements with the United States for sharing information on terrorists and their money supplies.

Mr. Trump heaped praise on the emir on Tuesday, describing him as a “great friend.”


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