Published: Mon, June 19, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Despite diplomatic row USA agrees $12 billion arms deal with Qatar

Despite diplomatic row USA agrees $12 billion arms deal with Qatar

"Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis met today with Qatari Minister of State for Defense Affairs Dr. Khalid al-Attiyah to discuss concluding steps in finalizing the Foreign Military Sales purchase of US-manufactured F-15 fighter aircraft by the State of Qatar", Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Roger Cabiness told CNN.

The US and Qatar have signed a $12bn deal to supply dozens of F-15 jets to the tiny gas-rich Gulf emirate, despite recent high-profile claims by President Donald Trump alleging Qatar's "high-level funding" of terrorism.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain severed diplomatic, trade and transport ties with import-dependent Qatar 10 days ago, accusing it of supporting Iran and funding Islamist groups, charges Doha denies.

Speaking on Qatar's $12bn deal with the U.S. to buy F-15 fighter jets, the minister said "just like other country, like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt.it is natural for Qatar to buy airplanes or parts necessary for its own defense".

The crisis has seen Saudi Arabia cut off its land border with Qatar, the host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

That deal was worth an estimated value of $21 billion.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who visited Doha this week, arrived in Kuwait on Thursday for talks.

Other countries have now entered the fray and are attempting to broker negotiations between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, including Turkey and Russian Federation. He called the trip a "routine port visit", though Qatar's state-run news agency described the presence as being part of a "joint exercise" with the Qatari Navy.

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America's largest airbase in the Middle East, al-Udeid, is in Qatar. Al Udeid Air Base is home to more than 11,000 USA and coalition troops.

On Wednesday, Rex Tillerson, in testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Relations, said it was problematic to list the entirety of the Muslim Brotherhood - one of the "extremist" groups the Saudi-led block has accused Qatar of supporting - as "terrorists".

The Pentagon on Thursday also deployed two warships to waters off Qatar.

Qatar will buy American McDonnel Douglas F-15 Eagle jet fighters for about $12 billion, Reuters reported.

Kuwait has played a role in trying to end the Gulf conflict since it started, with the country's emir visiting Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E. and Qatar last week.

"ICAO is presently reviewing requests from the government of Qatar to assess the flight restrictions imposed upon it by neighbouring states", according to an ICAO statement.

Bahrain and the UAE have also banned expressions of sympathy for Qatar.

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