WATCH: Biden admin grilled for friendly overtures to Qatar, where Hamas leader lives
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State Department spokesman Ned Price was grilled Wednesday by reporters for President Joe Biden’s administration’s outreach to Qatar, a country where the leader of the terror group Hamas currently resides.
“We’ve been open about our dialogue and engagement with Qatar. Qatar is an important partner and we also look to it to use its influence with a range of actors, including terrorist actors, to reduce the risk of violence and to bring it to an end when it occurs,” Price said when asked if the U.S. was aware of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh’s location in Doha.
Haniyeh is listed on the State Department’s Specially Designated National (SDN) list for activities related to terrorism.
“We and other partners in the region are engaged with this terrorist, Palestinian terrorist group Hamas,” Price added. “Terrorism is something we take very, very seriously.”
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Price also said that while he was aware of reports of Haniyeh’s presence in Qatar, he “couldn’t speak to intelligence matters.”
The Biden administration has reached out to Qatar on multiple occasions since taking office in January, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken who spoke with Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, emir of Qatar, just last week.
The administration has also appointed a special envoy for Iran who is based in Doha and held a memorandum of understanding meeting with the country in March.
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Qatar has also served as a mediator in the past, a role Price said the Biden administration sees as necessary given the continued conflict between Israeli forces and Gaza militants.
The renewed tensions between Israel and Hamas earlier this month have resulted in the death of more than 200 people, including Palestinian civilians, and have led to widespread condemnation across the world.