Blinken to travel to Qatar for World Cup under shadow of human rights criticisms

Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Qatar next week to attend the World Cup as it kicks off in Doha while also launching a bilateral dialogue with Qatari officials. 

Blinken is the first official the Biden administration has announced it is sending to the soccer tournament, which is taking place under a shadow of controversy and human rights criticisms, even as Qatar is being commended for efforts to address such concerns. 

“The Secretary will be cheering on the U.S. Men’s National Team in its first game of the World Cup, as the United States takes on Wales,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.  

Blinken, who will arrive in Qatar on Monday, will also launch the U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue and recognize “Qatar’s important contribution to international sports diplomacy as it hosts the World Cup,” Price said.

The secretary will meet with senior Qatari officials, including Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, the country’s deputy prime minister and foreign minister

The talks will include “a range of priorities, including global health, humanitarian assistance, international development, labor and human rights, security cooperation, climate change, and trade and investment,” Price said.

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