CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia officials greeted a delegation from the nation of Qatar today, celebrating a new partnership between the National Guard and Qatari military forces.

Gov. Jim Justice led a ceremonial event at the Capitol with representatives from Qatar, which is in western Asian in the Persian Gulf region.

“Another big day in West Virginia,” Justice said at today’s event. “There’s many, many, many things that can be beneficial from both sides.”

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U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.

In April, Sen. Joe Manchin announced that the West Virginia National Guard and Qatari military forces were approved to begin a State Partnership Program, beating out multiple other states.

Members of the Justice administration met in April with the Emir of Qatar.

The program will enable joint exchanges of forces to conduct training and partnership exercises. Those involved with the partnership say a benefit will be increasing the military capabilities of the two nations.

“This partnership between West Virginia and Qatar proves what we as West Virginians know – that the West Virginia National Guard is the most skilled and professional force and is known as the best in the country,” Manchin stated today.

Qatar is preparing to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament. Those involved with the partnership say this is a promising opportunity for West Virginia National Guard forces to partner with Qatar to aid in the development of critical infrastructure and train security forces in preparation for the event.

“We want to be a broader part of the nation’s defense and take on an even greater role,” West Virginia National Guard Adjutant Gen. James Hoyer said today.

Qatar, which is active in the oil and natural gas industries, has the fourth highest gross domestic product in the world.

Officials involved in the partnership with West Virginia say there will be economic and cultural benefits too.

Qatar has already invested $50,000 in Reconnecting McDowell, a comprehensive, long-term initiative to revitalize McDowell County.

The West Virginia officials welcomed Qatar Defense Attaché Brig. Gen. Yousef Al Kuwari, Air Force Attaché Col. Mohamed Al Manai, Army Attaché Col. Khalid Al Naimi, and Government Affairs Advisor for Defense Attaché Ms. Sarah El-Zeini.

The Qatar officials were to tour the West Virginia National Guard’s 130th Air Wing and were meeting with state officials to discuss development and planning.

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