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Qatar achieved full independence on 3 September 1971 in an atmosphere of cooperation with the United Kingdom, the United States of America and friendship with neighbouring states. Most Arab states were also among the first countries to recognise Qatar, and the state promptly gained admittance to the United Nations and the Arab League. Qatar established diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union, and Communist China in 1988. Qatar was also an early member of OPEC and a founding member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Qatar's foreign policy and external relations are managed by its Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Emir of Qatar since 1995, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, has lately been going on an expansive boost to promote Qatar as a foreign player. The first major move in this regard was the founding of Al-Jazeera.
In addition to revolutionising the free media in the Middle East and indeed the rest of the world, the Qatar funded Qatar Airways has gone on an aggressive expansion, which also competes with nearby Emirates Airline, to reach more destinations and serve more passengers.
The hosting of the Asian games in Doha was also another boost to the state which, like the Asian games in Delhi, helped infrastructure, as well as boosting the state's profile. Furthermore, the signing of major international sports stars like Gabriel Batistuta have helped give Qatar an image boost. Players like Sebastián Soria and Márcio Emerson Passos have been granted Qatari citizenship to boost their soccer team.
The first big coup for the Qatari government was hosting a major round of trade talks that resulted in what is referred to as the Doha Round. Although it was just a preliminary measure it has got the name of the state out, much like a marketing gimmick.
The major coup for the Qatari government was solving the Lebanese political crisis. The meeting ended with the Doha Agreement. This was a major breakthrough as more than a year of political wrangling could not yield an agreement despite pressure from the West and the [collective] Arab League.
Qatar hosted peace talks between Jem and the Khartoum government announced an agreement on confidence-building measures. "There has been great progress ... and we now have an agreement," Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem Al-Thani, the Qatari prime minister, said.
Of late, the Emirate has been tremendously active in the global realm. The Sudanese government and the strongest Darfur rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement, also signed an agreement in Doha. While Doha also took a tough stand in the reaction to the Israeli invasion of Gaza. Following this reaction and apparent closeness with Iran the 2009 Arab League summit in Doha was met with further controversy although Qatar was seen as emerging further with the follow-up Arab-Latin American (Latam) summit.
On 4 May 2009, the Qatari Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Ahmad Abdullah al-Mahmud said that Chad and Sudan had agreed to end hostilities against each other and to normalise relations Qatari mediated talks in Doha. However, the agreement soon broke down.
The relationship between Albania and Qatar is very good. Both countries are members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. Qatar contributes greatly in the investments of Albania.
The territorial dispute with Bahrain over the Hawar Islands and the maritime boundary dispute with Bahrain were solved by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague. In the June 2001 decision, Bahrain kept the Hawar Islands and Qit'at Jaradah but dropped claims to Janan Island and Zubarah on mainland Qatar, while Qatar retained significant maritime areas and their resources. The agreement has furthered the goal of definitively establishing the border with Saudi Arabia and Saudi-led mediation efforts continue.
Qatar established trade relations with the State of Israel in 1996. In January 2008 Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with former Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Thani in Switzerland, at the Davos Economic Forum. The existence of the surreptitious talks has so far been kept secretive by Israel.
Alongside Barak's momentous encounter, some sources have said that a senior figure from Qatar paid a visit to Israel in mid-January 2008 and met with Israeli leaders to discuss the situation in Gaza and the possibility of jump starting stagnant negotiations over the release of Gilad Shalit.
Despite Qatar's support of Hamas and its good relations with Hizbullah, Israeli leaders have maintained direct contact with the emirate. In January 2007, in his last months as vice premier, current President Shimon Peres paid a high-profile visit to the capital city of Doha.
Peres also visited Qatar in 1996, when he launched the new Israeli trade bureau there.
Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni also met with the Qatari Emir at a UN conference last year. In April 2008, she visited Qatar where she attended a conference and met the Emir, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Oil and Gas.
However, following the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict, Qatar hosted an emergency conference of Arab states and Iran to discuss the conflict. The Hamas administration in Gaza, as opposed to the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, represented the Palestinians, undermining support for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbass. Khalid Meshaal, the leader of Hamas, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, and President Ahmadinejad of Iran urged all Arab states with remaining ties to Israel to cut them. In effect, Qatar, along with Mauritania, cut all remaining ties with Israel. The conference showed the rising Arab support for Hamas over Fatah as well as the influence of anti-Israeli leaders like al-Assad of Syria and Ahmadinejad of Iran.
In 2010, Qatar twice offered to restore trade relations with Israel and allow the reinstatement of the Israeli mission in Doha, on condition that Israel allow Qatar to send building materials and money to Gaza to help rehabilitate infrastructure, and that Israel make a public statement expressing appreciation for Qatar's role and acknowledging its standing in the Middle East. Israel refused, on the grounds that Qatari supplies could be used by Hamas to build bunkers and reinforced positions from which to fire rockets at Israeli cities and towns, and that Israel did not want to get involved in the competition between Qatar and Egypt over the Middle East mediation.
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In September 1992, tensions arose with Saudi Arabia when Saudi forces allegedly attacked a Qatari border post, resulting in two deaths. Since the event relations have improved. A joint commission has been set up to demarcate the border as agreed between the two governments. Most, but not all, of the border issues have now been resolved.
In 2010, the Emir became the first Arab leader to tour South Lebanon and view the various projects it funded following the 2006 Lebanon War. He also inaugurated an hospital in Bint Jbeil and a nearby mosque and church, while accompanied by Lebanon's President Michel Sleiman and Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri.