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Bush Thanks Amir of Qatar for Support

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 9, 2003 – President Bush May 8 thanked the leader of the tiny Gulf country of Qatar for his nation's steadfast support.

In brief remarks at the White House after the two leaders met, Bush said Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani "showed great leadership" in leading his country to join the coalition that took on Saddam Hussein's regime.

U.S. Central Command located its forward headquarters in Qatar before the conflict began.

Bush called the amir a "reformer" and "a strong example of what is possible in his part of the world." Al Thani has promoted a new constitution for Qatar that allows women to vote and has appointed women to his cabinet.

"We in Qatar are very keen to have a very unique and strong and distinct relationship with the United States," al Thani said. "Our military relationship is very good."

Bush also announced he'd be sending Secretary of State Colin Powell to the Middle East over the weekend for talks on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The president said he'd be speaking to the newly appointed prime minister of the Palestinian Authority about encouraging the Arab world to "assume its responsibilities of stopping the funding of terror and to working with the Palestinian Authority to encourage the habits of democracy and freedom."

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