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NATO rejects Qatar membership ambition

6th June 2018 - 13:17 GMT | by ​Agence France-Presse in Brussels


NATO on 6 June declined an overture by Qatar to join the Western military defence alliance, saying membership was reserved to the US and Europe.

It was responding to a comment by Qatar's defence minister on 5 June that his country's long-term strategic ‘ambition’ was to join NATO.

An official of the 29-country alliance told AFP, ‘According to Article 10 of the Washington Treaty, only European countries can become members of NATO. Qatar is a valuable and longstanding partner of NATO.’

Speaking on the anniversary of a bitter year-long diplomatic dispute among Gulf nations that has seen Qatar isolated from its former regional allies, Qatar's Defence Minister Khalid bin Mohamed Al-Attiyah said Qatar wanted to become a full member of NATO.

Attiyah told the official magazine of the Qatari Defence Ministry, Altalaya: ‘Qatar today has become one of the most important countries in the region in terms of the quality of armament.

‘Regarding the membership, we are a main ally from outside NATO... The ambition is full membership if our partnership with NATO develops and our vision is clear.’

His remarks come at a politically sensitive time in the region.

On 5 June 2017, Saudi Arabia the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt abruptly severed ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism and Iran.

The four countries expelled Qataris, and the country's only land border with Saudi Arabia has been closed for the past year.

Diplomatic efforts have so far proved fruitless in what was previously one of the most stable regions in the Arab world.

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