Biden to meet Qatar leader as energy worries loom in Europe




White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks at a press briefing at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden will host the ruling emir of Qatar at the White House on Monday, a visit that comes as U.S. and European allies are scrambling to put together contingency plans to meet Europe’s energy needs should supplies be impacted by Russia further invading Ukraine.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden and Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani planned to discuss Middle East security, ensuring the stability of global energy supplies and the situation in Afghanistan, where humanitarian conditions have deteriorated in the aftermath of the U.S. military withdrawal and Taliban takeover last year.

Qatar is one of the world’s larger suppliers of liquefied natural gas and is among countries that the U.S. is hoping could aid Europe should a Russian invasion of Ukraine lead to Moscow stemming the flow of energy.

Some 100,000 Russian troops are massed near the Ukraine border. Biden has repeated warned that Russia will face severe consequences if it further invades Ukraine. U.S. officials believe Russian military action could be imminent.

If needed, Europe could look to natural gas supplies in North Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the U.S. The effort would require “rather smaller volumes from a multitude of sources” to make up for a Russian cutoff, according to a senior Biden administration official who spoke about internal deliberations on the condition of anonymity.

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