Qatar Amir and Joe Biden
Europe's fears of losing Russian gas supplies in the Ukraine crisis will loom large when Qatar's emir meets the US president on Monday.
HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani will ensure some kind of assistance, however, as he seeks a bigger share of the European market for Qatar's burgeoning offshore gas production and to score valuable points over its neighbours in becoming the key US ally in the Gulf.
The sheikh, whose tiny country has increased its diplomatic initiatives to match its status as an energy colossus, has the Ukraine crisis, efforts to engage the hardline Taliban administration in Afghanistan and backroom talks on reviving a nuclear accord with Iran on the agenda for his White House meeting with President Joe Biden, officials said.
Gas supplies are one of the key areas that Europe fears could be cut if Russia decides to take military action in Ukraine.
The United States is also in contact with Australia about providing alternative supplies and could send more of its own production, diplomats said.
Australia, Qatar and the United States are the world's biggest gas exporters.
"Talks are going on" over diverting some liquefied natural gas from Asian markets to Europe if President Vladimir Putin cuts supplies to western Europe, a Qatari official told AFP ahead of the meeting.
There are precedents for Qatar helping friends in need.
It sent supplies to Japan after the 2011 tsunami and four special cargoes to Britain in October to address sudden shortages.
But as Qatar has long-term contracts with huge customers in South Korea, Japan and China, there is little it could do to replace all Russian gas supplies to western Europe.
The Gulf state has "maxed out" supplying existing customers, Energy Minister Saad al-Kaabi said in October when gas shortages were already starting to bite in Europe.
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