The Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani begins a two-day state visit to France on Tuesday, February 27, focused on the release of hostages in Gaza and the relaunch of the process for the creation of a Palestinian state, as well as on strengthening the bilateral relationship.

This first state visit by an Emir of Qatar in 15 years, and the first for Tamim ben Hamad Al-Thani since his accession to the throne in 2013, "constitutes an honor done to France and illustrates the depth of the ties that unite our two countries", the Élysée underlined on Monday.

The emir is expected at 4 p.m. at the Élysée for an interview with President Emmanuel Macron followed by the signing of agreements and a state dinner, the French presidency said, without further details.

The captain of the French football team and star striker of PSG, Kylian Mbappé, as well as the president of the Parisian club, businessman Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, a member of the emir's inner circle, should be part of guests of honor, according to the newspaper Le Parisien.

The two leaders will discuss the release of hostages in Gaza, an absolute "priority" for France, three of whose nationals are still in the hands of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, Qatar playing a central role in the ongoing negotiations and those for a ceasefire.

The war in Gaza broke out after the massive Hamas attack in Israel on October 7 which left around 1,160 dead, most of them civilians, according to an AFP count based on official Israeli data.

Israel's retaliatory military offensive has so far killed nearly 30,000 people, mostly women and children, in Gaza, according to Hamas' health ministry.

Qatar welcomes the political leadership of Hamas on its soil and is working with the United States and Egypt to try to obtain an end to the fighting with Israel.

It is also a “central partner in efforts to stabilize the region” while the conflict between Israel and Hamas threatens to spill over into Lebanon, already shaken by political paralysis and a serious economic crisis, notes Paris.

Humanitarian operation

Since the start of the war, Hezbollah has targeted Israeli military positions on a daily basis, in support of its Palestinian ally, while Israel has carried out strikes on border villages and targeted operations.

Qatar has already supported the Lebanese Armed Forces and this support will be part of the future "parameters" for "de-escalation", points out the Élysée.

As truce talks continue in Doha, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced an upcoming ground operation in the crowded city of Rafah, which he presents as the final step toward achieving "total victory" over Hamas.

Palestinians pile up wood near a building destroyed during Israeli strikes, February 26, 2024 in Beit Lahia in the Gaza Strip © - / AFP

A number of countries, including France, are urging it to abandon such an offensive while more than a million civilians are stuck in the city and it is the only entry point for humanitarian aid which is already arriving in dribs and drabs.

“Irreversible momentum”

In this alarming context, France and Qatar are working to deliver humanitarian aid, including ten ambulances and more than 300 tents, "in the days to come".

France and Jordan also carried out a new airdrop of humanitarian cargo, including 2.2 tonnes of food parcels and hygiene kits, on Monday on Gaza, after a first similar operation at the beginning of January, announced the Quai d'Orsay .

The French president is also pushing, with his Western counterparts, for the implementation of the "two-state solution", Palestinian and Israeli, "the only viable way out of the crisis", but which Benjamin Netanyahu does not want to hear about.

The Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani (left) and French President Emmanuel Macron participate in the presentation of the Men's Football World Cup trophy on December 18, 2022 in Doha © FRANCK FIFE / AFP/Archives

It must be given "decisive and irreversible momentum", he insisted when receiving King Abdallah II of Jordan on February 16 at the Élysée, suggesting that he could therefore unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state.

On the second day of the state visit on Wednesday, Prime Ministers Gabriel Attal and Mohammed bin Abdelrahmane Al-Than will chair an Economic Forum on investment opportunities between the two countries in artificial intelligence, decarbonization, semiconductors , biotechnology and health.

The two countries will also relaunch their cultural relations with an upcoming visit by the French Minister of Culture, Rachida Dati, to Qatar.

With AFP

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