By Mohamed Fahd
DOHA (AA) – Qatar is looking forward to a full NATO membership, the country’s defense minister said Tuesday.
"We are certainly better than before," Khalid al-Attiyah said in an interview with Altalaya, the official magazine of the Qatari Defense Ministry.
“Qatar today has become one of the most important countries in the region in terms of the quality of armament,” he said.
The Qatari minister cited the growing cooperation between Doha and the NATO which he said may lead to “hosting one of the NATO’s units or one of its specialized centers.”
"Regarding the membership, we are a main ally from outside the NATO… the ambition is full membership if our partnership with NATO develops and our vision is clear,” al-Attiyah said.
"NATO appreciates Qatar's contribution to combating terrorism and [drying up] its financing,” he added.
The minister’s statements came on the first anniversary of the Gulf crisis, when four Arab states – Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain -- imposed a land, sea and air blockade on Qatar in hopes of making it comply with a long list of demands.
The four accuse Doha of supporting terrorism -- allegations Doha denies -- and collectively severed ties with the Gulf country.