Europe’s fears of losing Russian gas supplies in the Ukraine crisis will loom large when Qatar’s Emir meets the U.S. President on Monday but the powerful Gulf ruler has no “magic wand”, analysts say.
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani will ensure some kind of assistance, however, as he seeks a bigger share of the European market for Qatar’s burgeoning offshore gas production and to score valuable points over its neighbours in becoming the key U.S. ally in the Gulf.
The sheikh, whose tiny country has increased its diplomatic initiatives to match its status as an energy colossus, has the Ukraine crisis, efforts to engage the hardline Taliban administration in Afghanistan and backroom talks on reviving a nuclear accord with Iran on the agenda for his White House meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden.
Gas supplies are one of the key areas that Europe fears could be cut if Russia decides to take military action in Ukraine.
“Talks are going on” over diverting some liquefied natural gas from Asian markets to Europe if President Putin cuts supplies to western Europe, a Qatari official said ahead of the meeting.