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    Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu

    Russian Defense Minister Arrives in Qatar for First-Ever Visit

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    High-ranking Russian and Qatari officials have stepped up efforts to boost cooperation between the states over the course of the year.

    DOHA (Sputnik) – Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has arrived in Qatar on the first-ever visit, with the signing of an intergovernmental agreement on defense industry cooperation coming shortly later.

    Representatives of Russia's state arms exporter Rosoboronexport and the Qatari Defense Ministry signed a memorandum and a framework contract in the defense sector in the presence of Shoigu and his Qatari counterpart.

    Shoigu is also expected to meet with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to discuss the issues of global and regional security.

    Previously, the Qatari defense minister, Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah, announced the country's interest in the cooperation with Russia in the defense sector, especially in modern Russian technologies. According to him, Doha wants to purchase Russian technologies for production of air defense systems.

    Historically, Qatar used to buy US weaponry, with Doha ranking first in the world in terms of money spent on US-made weapons and military equipment in 2015.

    The visit of the Russian defense minister comes months after Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Thani visited Moscow to meet President Vladimir Putin to discuss the situation in the Middle East as well as energy issues prior to which the Qatari foreign minister held talks with his counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

    Earlier this year, the Russian president held several phone conversations with the Qatari Emir, with the latest being in July, during which Putin stressed the importance of political and diplomatic efforts in normalization of situation around Doha.

    Qatar Diplomatoic Row

    On June 5, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt broke off diplomatic relations and communication with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism and interfering in their internal affairs. Later, the Maldives, Mauritius, and Mauritania also announced the severance of diplomatic relations. Jordan and Djibouti reduced the level of their diplomatic missions in Qatar.

    Kuwait, acting as a mediator in the crisis, handed over 13 demands of the four Arab states. However, Doha has refused to comply with the demands.

    Russian officials have repeatedly called on the parties involved to settle the row via diplomatic means and praised Kuwait's mediation efforts.

    Russia-Qatar Relations in Details

    In 2007, a agreement on the establishment of the Russian-Qatari Business Council was signed. In 2010, the creation of the Russian-Qatari commission on gas and energy cooperation, as well as the intergovernmental Russian-Qatari commission for trade, economic, scientific and technical cooperation was agreed.

    The positive transformation of Qatar’s position with regard to Russia that emerged in the second half of 2013 had an impact on the level of trade, economic and investment ties. In 2013, bilateral trade was $41.4 million, while it was up 28 percent the following year.

    In 2010-2014, bilateral annual trade turnover was on average about $54 million. Organic chemistry, plastic and rolled metal products account for 60 percent of the value of Russian exports to Qatar.

    Bilateral relations are also developing in science and culture. In June 2011, Qatari Culture Days were held in Moscow for the first time in the history of the bilateral relations. In November same year, Russian Culture Days took place in Doha.

    Working-level contacts were established between the organizing committees for FIFA World Cups in 2018 in Russia and in 2022 in Qatar. In mid-2011, a memorandum of mutual understanding was signed between the Russian Olympic Committee and Asian Olympic Committee, which includes the Qatari National Olympic Committee.

    Related:

    Russia Not Going to Compete for Leading Role in Qatar Crisis Settlement - Lavrov
    Russia 'Does Not Act as a Mediator' in Qatar Diplomatic Row
    Qatar 'Looking for a Defense Cooperation' With Russia Amid Gulf Row
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    Sergei Shoigu, Russia, Qatar
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