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Qatar's emir visits Moscow to discuss trade and Syria

Vladimir Putin holds talks with Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani [Getty]

Date of publication: 26 March, 2018

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Qatar's emir met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow Monday, to discuss the Syrian crisis and agree a number of trade deals between the two countries.

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Doha, Moscow
Russia's President Vladimir Putin held talks on Monday with Qatar leader Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, as part of a Russia-Qatar summit held annually in Moscow since 2016.

The Kremlin's press office stated that the two leaders would discuss both international and regional issues, as well as advancing Russian-Qatari cooperation in trade and humanitarian issues.

The visit by the Qatari emir to Moscow comes amid a period of strained foreign relations for both countries.

Qatar has been subject to a Saudi-led blockade, while Russia faces its biggest diplomatic crisis since the Cold War as scores of Russian diplomats from across the world are expelled due to the poisoning for a former spy in the UK.

Talks are thus expected to revolve around economic cooperation and investments, with a number of trade deals signed including the supply of Russian air defence systems to Qatar.

Syria is also on the agenda for talks between the two leaders. Qatar has previously been in support of the Syrian opposition and provided humanitarian assistance to besieged Eastern Ghouta.

"Qatar has adapted successfully to the ramifications of embargo, which could be lifted this year or next. However its influence in the Syrian crisis has dwindled, so Russia will be able lead these discussions from a position of power," Middle Eastern affairs expert Dimitri Frolovsky told The New Arab.

"Qatar wants to discuss the issue of regime change in Syria, but does not have the impetus to influence Moscow's position, who will merely take Qatar's interests into consideration," he added.

While trade deals between the two countries are estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars a year, cooperation between them in the fields of investment and energy has only been in action since 2013 when the Qatari Investment Authority (QIA) acquired shared of Russia's second-largest bank VTP worth $500 million.



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