Deutch, Bipartisan Congressional Delegation Conclude Visit to Qatar, Cyprus, and Greece
Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL) and a nine-member bipartisan Congressional delegation concluded visits to Qatar, Cyprus, and Greece. The delegation visited U.S. troops at al-Udeid Air Base, the largest American military installation in the Middle East, on July 4.
In Qatar, the delegation received a briefing from Major General B. Chance Saltzman on threats to U.S. interests in the region and military operations in Afghanistan and Syria. The group also toured the Combined Air Operations Center, which coordinates all U.S. air operations in the Middle East.
The delegation held a series of high-level meetings in Doha with Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Thani, Prime Minister and Minister of Interior; Dr. Khalid bin Mohammad al-Attityah, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense; Mohammad bin Ahmed al-Misnad, the Advisor for National Security to the Emir of Qatar; and U.S. Embassy officials, including Phillip Nelson, the Deputy Chief of Mission.
Throughout these meetings, the delegation discussed the Emir of Qatar’s current visit to the United States, the U.S.-Qatar security relationship, efforts to end the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) rift and counter Iran’s malign influence in the Middle East, joint initiatives to combat the financing of terrorist groups, and the importance of protecting human rights in Qatar and throughout the region.
In Cyprus, the bipartisan delegation met with Minister of Defense Savvas Angelides; Minister of Energy, Commerce, Industry, and Tourism Georgios Lakkotrypis; and National Security Advisor Kyriacos Kouros to discuss the development of natural gas deposits in the Eastern Mediterranean, energy cooperation between Cyprus, Israel, and Greece, and deterrence of Turkish naval aggression off the Cypriot coast.
Delegation members met separately with Elizabeth Spehar, the United Nations Special Representative and Head of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus, to discuss international diplomacy to reunify the island, and U.S. Ambassador Judith Garber to consider ways to further strengthen U.S.-Cyprus relations.
The bipartisan delegation also visited the U.S. naval installation at Souda Bay in Greece. The members received briefings from U.S. naval officers and General Christos Christodoulou, Chief of the Hellenic Defense General Staff, on U.S.-Greek defense cooperation and the strategic environment in the eastern Mediterranean.
In May, Congressman Deutch and Congressman Gus Bilirakis introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act of 2019 to support the growing relationships between Israel, Greece, and Cyprus. The bill would expand U.S. involvement in Eastern Mediterranean energy pursuits, support the development of recently-discovered natural gas fields, and lift the U.S. arms embargo on Cyprus.
Congressman Deutch issued the following statement after the trip:
“Our delegation was honored to visit U.S. troops at al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar to celebrate July 4. Our servicemembers were away from their families and friends on Independence Day and we thanked them for their sacrifice that keeps all Americans safe.
“During our visit to Doha, we met with senior Qatari and American officials to discuss our security relationship and our efforts to promote stability in the Middle East. We also stressed the importance of GCC solidarity, which is vital to counter and deter Iranian adventurism in the region, and the necessity of countering terrorist financing and ensuring the human rights of guest workers and others who reside in Qatar.
“In recent years, the relationship between Cyprus and the United States has grown increasingly close. I was proud to lead a bipartisan delegation to Cyprus and meet with senior Cypriot leaders to express my support for improved bilateral ties and efforts to develop energy deposits in the Eastern Mediterranean.
“We also visited Naval Support Activity Souda Bay. This visit allowed us to express support for our strong military and political relationships with Greece and the operations of a base that is vital to both U.S. and NATO naval operations in the Mediterranean Sea.
“As a co-chair of the Congressional Hellenic-Israel Alliance, I introduced legislation in May to promote the expanding trilateral relationship between Greece, Cyprus, and Israel. During my visits to both Cyprus and Greece, I encouraged efforts to further strengthen these regional partnerships that advance U.S. geopolitical interests.
“Greece is the birthplace of democracy. I would like to congratulate the Greek people on their recent elections and Prime Minister Mitsotakis on his victory. I look forward to working with him to advance U.S.-Greece relations.”
Members of the Congressional Delegation:
• Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL), Foreign Affairs; Co-Chair, Congressional Hellenic-Israel Alliance
• Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Energy & Commerce; Co-Chair, Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues; Co-Chair, Congressional Hellenic-Israel Alliance
• Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Appropriations
• Congressman Randy Weber (R-TX), Transportation and Infrastructure
• Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Appropriations
• Congresswoman Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-AS), Small Business
• Congressman Scott Peters (D-CA), Energy and Commerce
• Congresswoman Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon (R-PR), Transportation and Infrastructure
• Congressman Darren Soto (D-FL), Energy and Commerce