DOHA (Reuters) - Qatar has agreed to strengthen counter-terrorism cooperation with the United States to crack down on illicit financing of militant groups, a joint Qatari-U.S. statement said on Monday following a visit by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Mnuchin’s visit to Doha marked the end of a week-long trip aimed at curbing terrorist financing. There were earlier stops in Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, where the U.S. in May announced the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center, a U.S.-Gulf initiative to stem finance to militant groups.
Following talks with Qatari officials in Doha, Mnuchen said the two countries had agreed to “substantially increasing the sharing of information on terrorist financiers,” with “greater emphasis on charitable and money service business sectors in Qatar,” according to the statement.
Qatar is keen to show it is cooperating on counter terrorism nearly five months after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt began a diplomatic and trade boycott of the gas-rich state, accusing it of financing extremist groups and allying with their arch-foe Iran, allegations Doha denies.
Qatar in July signed a memorandum of understanding with the United States to increase cooperation on fighting terrorism finance and was one of six Gulf nations last week to announce sanctions on 13 individuals said to be al Qaeda and Islamic State militants.
Qatar hosts Udeid Air Base, the largest U.S. military facility in the Middle East, from which U.S.-led coalition aircraft stage sorties against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
Reporting by Eric Knecht; editing by Ralph Boulton