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Bahrain’s confusing Israel policy 6, October 2008

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Bahrain, Middle East.
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Bahrain has no especially warm feelings for Iran, yet this has become ever more apparent in recent weeks. The Bahrain Foreign Minister called for some kind of regional grouping which would include Israel to meet to discuss regional issues. This, however, would involve recognising Israel (one would think…), something many in the region do not want. Indeed, this created issues within Bahrain with its significant Shiite, Iranian-supporting ‘minority’. Nevertheless, this is not the only sign of Bahrain’s attempts to discuss the thorny question of Israel. The Crown Prince himself was reported to have met Israeli officials in the World Economic forum summits in 2000 and 2003 as well as Sheikh Khalad’s meeting with his opposite Israeli number at the UN in 2007. Furthermore, Bahrain is a staunch US ally, hosting the US fifth fleet, among other examples of close ties.

This call for recognising and the setting up of a discussion group was, unsurprisingly, met with a definite no by Iran. Yet in a twist to this story, a Bahrain MP has spoken out to firstly castigate Iran for inconsistent policies and secondly ‘clarify’ the Bahraini statement by insisting that such a proposal would not – ipso facto – lead to a normalisation of relations. In short, there is no way of knowing what Bahrain actually intends to do in the near future. At their highest levels, they apparently seek some kind of relationship with Israel, yet are thoroughly hamstrung by Parliamentary opposition. There seems to be neither an easy nor swift resolution in sight for these complex matters.

There’s that phrase again… 6, October 2008

Posted by thegulfblog.com in China, Qatar.
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I just read a news article which slipped past me some months ago, about the Qatari state visit to Beijing back in April. During this visit the countries ties up lucrative and important contracts regarding Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). Qatar is currently the world’s largest exporter and China, ever desperate to get its hands on more fuel, has just signed two important contracts for exportation and development. In the report was the immortal phrase, inserted in to countless such articles, where the nation dealing with China make clear (or have made clear for them) their undying, unyielding, unswerving and fervent commitment to the one China policy.


Chinese, Qatari firms ink gas deals

<!–enpproperty 2008-04-11 07:21:54.0Li XiaokunChinese, Qatari firms ink gas dealsQatar, gas1158960National2@webnews/enpproperty–>

By Li Xiaokun (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-04-11 07:21

China’s two largest owners of liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals Thursday inked deals with Qatargas Operating Co for LNG importation – the first such deal between China and the world’s top LNG exporter.

Qatargas will sell 2 million tons of LNG a year to China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC), currently China’s sole LNG importer, starting from next year, according to the agreement.

Qatargas and its partner Royal Dutch Shell will sell 3 million tons of LNG a year to PetroChina from 2011.

CNOOC, China’s third-largest oil company, also announced Thursday it will open 17 offshore blocks for joint oil exploration with foreign companies this year.

The two agreements were signed between the companies’ chairmen at the Great Hall of the People Thursday, in the presence of Premier Wen Jiabao and visiting Qatari Prime Minister Shaikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al-Thani.

The two countries also inked three memoranda of understanding to enhance energy cooperation between the two governments and relevant companies, and expand bilateral cultural cooperation between now and 2010.

During a one-hour talk ahead of the signing ceremony, Wen said energy cooperation between the two nations has made encouraging breakthroughs recently.

He expressed hopes that the two sides can expand cooperation on energy, infrastructure construction and other fields, including culture, education, media, aviation and tourism.

Qatar attaches great importance to Sino-Qatari relations, resolutely adheres to the One-China policy and wished Beijing a successful Olympics, Jabr Al-Thani said.

“China has held many large-scale activities splendidly before. I believe the Beijing Olympics will be as outstanding as the previous ones here,” he said.

With this year marking the 20th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral ties, Jabr Al-Thani said Qatar would like to join hands with China to expand bilateral relations.

The Qatari prime minister arrived in Shanghai on Sunday for a weeklong official visit – the highest-level one by a Qatari leader in seven years.

He was scheduled to travel to Hainan province this morning to meet President Hu Jintao and other foreign heads of state, and deliver a speech at the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia on Saturday afternoon.