Qatar has agreed to increase efforts in cooperation with the United States to stop terrorists from receiving financing, the Trump administration announced Monday.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced the new agreement following an overseas meeting with Qatari officials. It was the second trip to Qatar in a week by a Cabinet-level official, following Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s most recent travel.
The meetings are part of a Trump administration effort to end a key U.S. partner’s surreptitious support of terrorism, which sparked a diplomatic crisis between American partners in the Middle East.
“We affirm that the United States and Qatar will significantly increase our cooperation on these issues to ensure that Qatar is a hostile environment for terrorist financing,” Mnuchin said in a Monday statement.
Those efforts will include the development of a new system for Qatari officials to designate terrorists for sanctions, as well as information sharing to crack down on private sector funding of jihadist groups. That will allow the two sides to begin “substantially increasing the sharing of information on terrorist financiers in the region,” Mnuchin said.
Qatar’s support for terrorism has been a major diplomatic priority over the last year. President Trump called on Arab nations to “strip [terrorists] of their access to funds” during his trip to Saudi Arabia in May, the first trip abroad of his presidency. When Saudi Arabia led a bloc of Arab nations in severing diplomatic ties with Qatar, Trump applauded.
That crisis touched off a complicated diplomatic problem for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Qatar hosts the chief U.S. military base in the Middle East, while Saudi Arabia is also a critical pillar of American foreign policy in the region. Tillerson’s team has used the crisis to induce Qatar to make new concessions regarding terror financing while arguing that Saudi Arabia should accept those reforms and relent its diplomatic pressure.
“Our talks with Secretary Mnuchin have been highly productive, and underline our nations’ shared determination to eradicate terrorism wherever it takes root,” Ali Shareef Al Emadi, Qatar’s finance minister, said Monday. “This is a clear indicator of our long-standing political commitment to combatting money laundering and terror financing.”
Saudi Arabia has resisted U.S. efforts to broker an end to the dispute. “There’s not a strong indication that parties are ready to talk yet,” Tillerson said last week during his trip to Qatar. “And so we cannot force talks upon people who are not ready to talk, so there has been no invitation to the White House because it’s not clear the parties are ready to engage. But we are going to continue to work towards that dialogue and toward that engagement. But as I said in response to an earlier question, we cannot and will not impose a solution on anyone.”