(MENAFN - The Peninsula) Negative reports in British media about the Football World Cup 2022 will not affect relations between the UK and Qatar, said Mark Simmonds (pictured), Minister for Africa and International Energy at the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
He was in Doha to discuss the situation in Sudan and Somalia and international energy issues and look at opportunities for Qatar and the UK
To a question whether negative reports in the UK's media about World Cup 2022 will adversely impact bilateral relations, he said, "I do not think so. The British media is separate from the British government. We do not control the media, it is independent of the government. We have a completely free press."
He was speaking to media persons yesterday after meetings with ministers and officials.
Simmonds met the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs H E Ahmed bin Abdullah bin Zaid Al Mahmoud, the Minister of Energy and Industry H E Dr Mohamed bin Saleh Al Sada and the Foreign Minister's Assistant for Foreign Affairs H E Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Rumeihi.
Discussions focussed on Qatar-UK cooperation on Africa, particularly in Sudan and Somalia, and opportunities for Qatar-UK partnerships on energy development and investment in Africa.
"I am delighted to have visited Qatar again for excellent meetings on very important issues," said Simmonds. "Security in Sudan and Somalia is vital, and requires international effort to help support them towards a peaceful and stable future. Qatar and the UK have an important role to play in Africa and on international energy issues and I hope my visit will strengthen co-operation in these areas, and our growing relationship," he added.
He said the problem of terrorism in Nigeria and Somalia cannot be solved just by military intervention. "Specific military solution by itself will not solve the problem. It has to be military, it has to be political, it has to be through dialogue and it also has to be through development," said Simmonds. His meeting with Dr Al Sada reviewed energy-related issues of common concern, particularly Qatar Petroleum's ventures in Africa. They also discussed issues of mutual interest.
British Ambassador Nicholas Hopton said in a statement: "The bilateral partnership is extremely strong across the board. We are working to support Qatar's realisation of its 2030 Vision and to deliver a successful World Cup in 2022. Cooperation between Qatar and the UK on Africa and energy issues is strong and Simmonds' visit is an opportunity to maintain those strong links and take our cooperation a step further."