HE Minister of Foreign Affairs: His Excellency the President of the brotherly Somali Republic and I discussed many issues that concern the two countries, especially in developing bilateral relations, and supporting the Somali government in its recent efforts, especially after electing His Excellency and the appointment of a new government. We reaffirmed the State of Qatar's support for the Somali government's efforts to combat terrorism and extremism, and we denounce the recent criminal acts that threaten the security and stability of Somalia. Furthermore, the leaders reaffirmed continuing to communicate between the two governments, and that there be bilateral programs on cooperation between them. Now of course, it has been agreed that there will be support for the Somali government budget, and God willing it will immediately begin during this current month, just as there will also be support for the development of Somali security capabilities. In addition, there will be a program for economic empowerment and creating jobs for Somali youth and other things that have not been agreed upon yet. Furthermore, there will be support for the efforts of the Somali government for achieving a comprehensive national reconciliation, where the Somali government requested that there be support for the State of Qatar for easing dialogue that it is carrying out to end this crisis that is found there, and the State of Qatar expressed its readiness to provide such support, especially with cooperation with some friendly countries. I welcome you, Your Excellency, and I thank you for this visit. Please go ahead.
Question: With regards to the piracy attack on Qatar National Agency (QNA), and the false statements…what is the State of Qatar's official response to this continued campaign in some media outlets in some Gulf countries?
HE Minister of Foreign Affairs: As I mentioned in the beginning, what is being described as a penetration of the QNA is not just a penetration, but also an electronic crime in accordance with all laws, and a crime that is accountable by the law. An electronic crime was carried out against the website of QNA, and in which false statements were broadcast as if His Highness the Emir said them or statements he never said or statements that were never authorized. An investigation team was formed to investigate this crime. The team will conduct a criminal investigation to reach the perpetrators and the perpetrators will be brought to justice. There will be a disclosure of the results for this investigation. The process will be carried out with transparency, both from the investigation process, and from the disclosure of the results of this investigation. As for the media outlets that adopted this false news, we are of course astonished, that the media would deal with false news despite the issuance of clear statements by QNA and the launch of an offensive campaign against the State of Qatar. But in the end, what is being done by these media outlets reflects their professionalism. What we have touched from perceived public opinion, especially in the Gulf street, is that there is complete awareness, and that there is a level of awareness that is rising higher than the level that has been reached by these media outlets.
Question: From Al-Raya newspaper. With regards to the strong relations between Qatar and Somalia, and the external forces interfering in Somalia?
Somali Foreign Minister: Regarding the external forces, there were a number of countries that were present in Somalia, and some not in a positive way, although they have started in a positive way to ensure security in Somalia. What we are doing is that we are working with our neighbors, and with the African Union, and the Arab League, and the United Nations. There was a recent forum that was held last week in London, and we request our international partners to work with the Somali government in order to help the Somali people and Somalia. That is how we are trying to limit the activities that were not helpful in Somalia despite their intentions. As for the relationship with Qatar, Qatar has been working with the Somali government for many years, and it supported the Somali government, and we are here to discuss the support that Qatar continues to provide, and our relationship with the new government. We had a constructive meeting this morning, and we are working on several areas we referred to, and which the Minister referred to.
HE Minister of Foreign Affairs: Of course, our relationship with Somalia is firstly a historical one, for it is a brotherly Arab nation, and it is a duty for us and a duty for all Arab and Muslim nations to provide it with help and support. There is a new leadership and a new government in Somalia. Just as our relationship was good with the previous leadership and the previous government, there is a continuation for this cooperation and to promote this cooperation, and there is a new vision from this current government, a developmental vision to achieve security and prosperity for the brotherly Republic of Somalia, and it is our duty as brotherly nations to support it.
Question: A day before President Trump visited the region, there was an attack on Qatar…"Qatar accused of terrorism." A day after the US-Islamic Summit, this penetration happened. The campaign looked as if it had been premeditated, it was launched at midnight, and the media preparations only a few minutes after indicates it was premeditated. Can Your Excellency please provide more details about this campaign and your strategies for combatting it?
HE Minister of Foreign Affairs: First of all, with regards to the continued campaign against the State of Qatar, the offensive campaign against the State of Qatar, specifically in the United States. It is astonishing that for the past years Qatar was never mentioned in opinion pieces and only by Qatari officials, but we were surprised during the past five weeks, there were thirteen opinion pieces written by different writers in the United States. On the day of the electronic attack against QNA, there was a conference talking about the State of Qatar that we were not invited to, and those who were invited to the conference were all the writers that wrote those opinion pieces against the State of Qatar, and during that same night, the attack happened. Is this a coincidence? We don't even know now, and we don't know if this matter was connected. As I told you, the piracy crime that was committed against QNA is under investigation, and we are not rushing to reach the results from now, but the campaign is clear. There is a media campaign targeting the State of Qatar, and we will confront it, God willing.
Question: There is a division amongst the Gulf countries. Can you talk about that? What can Qatar do to calm matters?
HE Minister of Foreign Affairs: Regarding our relations with the Gulf states, we always had friendly and brotherly relations with them. We believe we have the same destiny and we are all affected by what is happening in the region, as for the relation between what happened now and the crisis in 2014, there is no relation between that. We were in Riyadh two days before the electronic attack, and there had been fruitful discussions about the relations between the Gulf states. If there had been anything different, we had no knowledge of it, but Qatar always strives to safeguard friendly relations and cooperation between the Gulf states. I think the current conditions, especially regarding the regional crisis, it is important that we remain united so that we can overcome crises, and our position in the State of Qatar is that we don't look at that as a big problem.
Question: From QNA. What about the statements that affect Qatar and its brothers in the GCC, have you made contact with these countries to clarify Qatar's position on these fabricated statements?
HE Minister of Foreign Affairs: First of all, the matter of communication. What happened was an electronic attack against QNA, an announcement was made by the agency, and a statement was issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and it was followed up by another statement yesterday from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Our contact with our brothers in the council are continuous, but as for this matter, no contact was made because there is a clear channel, and there is a clear way showing what happened. Regarding what has been circulated in the media, this is a matter that concerns the media, but it did not come to us from any official side.
Question: Agence-France Presse. With regards to the piracy attack, is there any evidence that indicates the place where it came from?
HE Minister of Foreign Affairs: We don't have any evidence about the place the attack originated from. When we gather the information we will have a clear file containing evidence and the necessary proofs, and measures will be implemented. As for the legal side, whether it is inside Qatar or outside it, there are international laws related to these kinds of crimes, specifically electronic attacks, and it will be treated in accordance to those laws.
Question: You said that there had been constructive discussions between the Gulf states at the Riyadh meeting. There was talk that the new administration was putting pressure on you to distance yourselves from the Muslim Brotherhood and other groups, is this true? And will the Al-Udeid base remain here in the future, and could it damage Qatar-US relations?
HE Minister of Foreign Affairs: The relations between the United States and Qatar were always strong, and they are strategic relations, and we had good discussions between His Highness the Emir and President Donald Trump about our relations and between the partnerships between the two countries. As for distancing ourselves from the Muslim Brotherhood or any other Islamic groups, there were no discussions about this topic at any of the meetings because there is no evidence that says the State of Qatar has relations with these organizations, and it is something that is repeated in the media. However, we clearly stated, and on many times, that Qatar is not with political groups. We deal with governments. If they ruled in Egypt or in Tunisia, then we will deal with the government, and if they don’t, then we will continue with the government. With regards to Al-Udeid base, there is an agreement between Qatar and the United States that manages this relationship, and if anything were to happen to the base it will be in accordance to that agreement. Our relationship is strong, and President Trump talked about Qatar’s role in combatting terrorism in his speech, and he said we represent a strategic partner and the relationship between the two countries was always like this. We don’t see a connection between what happened with the cyberattack , and between our meeting with the new administration.
Question: About electronic fare and Qatar's way of avoiding attacks?
HE Minister of Foreign Affairs: The information security system provided and the centers that are available to us now are at the highest level, and uses the latest technology. There is continued development in the matter of electronic warfare, and it is not necessary that developments that keep up with the modernization of protection systems are as rapid as developments in offensive elements in information security. The State of Qatar will of course take steps to increase its efforts to put a barrier on information to secure it, but the barriers present now and the means of protection that are present now across all Qatari sectors are at the highest level, and penetrating them is very difficult. Regarding what happened at QNA, we are still investigating the reason for penetration, and what is the gap in which it entered, and it will be immediately addressed. As for the information system, it is an immediate system, and it is a solid and regenerative system across all sectors. The State cooperates in it, and all state sectors adopt the modernization of their systems first-hand under the supervision of this umbrella government.