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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

DHS Signs Border and Travel Agreements with Qatar, Bahrain and Cyprus

On January 8, Acting DHS Secretary Chad F. Wolf met with His Highness Amir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and His Excellency Qatari Prime Minister, and the Minister of Interior, Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani, to discuss 21st century regional solutions addressing aviation security, customs and border protection, Qatari security at World Cup 2022, and overall critical infrastructure and cybersecurity opportunities to enhance safety and security. 

The Acting Secretary signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) between DHS and the Ministry of Interior of the State of Qatar on Enhancing Border Security Cooperation through the Exchange of Information (EBSA) which is crucial to facilitating the exchange of biometric and associated data for those seeking entry.  The MOC establishes respective policies and processes to ensure effective data exchange while mindful of respective national laws, policies, human rights obligations, and the provisions of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2396.

“I would like to thank His Highness Amir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, as well as His Excellency Prime Minister, and Minister of Interior, Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani, for the Qatari Government’s exemplary collaboration with DHS in a variety of crucial mission areas, including information sharing, aviation security, border security, and cybersecurity,” said Acting Secretary Wolf. “Qatar is a crucial partner in the region as we seek regional approaches to 21st century security challenges. This is the latest in a series of agreements signed with Qatar that enhances our already strong bilateral partnership by ensuring the sharing of biometric information in an automated system. The EBSA MOC is a further step by Qatar to address statutory requirements of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). We look forward to further agreements to build 21st century security solutions.” 

One day prior, Wolf signed multiple security cooperation agreements that focus on facilitating secure trade and travel with the Kingdom of Bahrain. Acting Secretary Wolf and Minister of Interior Lt. General Sheikh Rashed bin Abdulla Al-Khalifa signed the Global Entry MOC and agreements to increase cooperation on border and cargo security.  

The Global Entry MOC extends eligibility benefits to Bahrain and allows CBP to continue to work with Bahrain to finalize standard operation procedures and other technical documents required to support a full Global Entry arrangement.

The bilateral border security and cargo security agreements will enable DHS and the Kingdom of Bahrain to work together more closely to detect potential threats to border and national security, while facilitating legitimate trade and travel.

On January 5, on his way to the Middle East, Wolf also signed a joint declaration on border security cooperation and management with Cypriot Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Christodoulides. The declaration deepens the ties between the government of the Republic of Cyprus and DHS and furthers countries’ cooperation and security goals in critical areas. 

While in Cyprus, Wolf participated in a ceremonial groundbreaking event for the Cyprus Center for Land, Open-seas, and Port Security (CYCLOPS), a $5 million U.S.-funded regional training facility. CYCLOPS will include a number of different hands-on training platforms, including a mock land border crossing, passenger screening area, and a mobile cybercrime training lab, which will enable regional partners to learn best practices for securing critical infrastructure and to engage in cross border, counterproliferation cyber investigations.  The United States—including DHS—will provide equipment, trainers, and other capacity-building support, while the Republic of Cyprus will contribute land, facilitate travel, and provide trainers.

Wolf returned to Washington, D.C. on January 8 following his meeting in Qatar.

Kylie Bielby
Kylie Bielby has more than 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. Before joining GTSC's Homeland Security Today staff, she was an editor and contributor for Jane's, and a columnist and managing editor for security and counter-terror publications.

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