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USA moves to reassure Qatar with arms sale, joint exercise

USA moves to reassure Qatar with arms sale, joint exercise

The Pentagon said in a statement that the deal "will give Qatar a state-of-the-art capability and increase security cooperation and interoperability between the United States and Qatar".

The biggest U.S. airbase in the Middle East is situated in Qatar and the country often helps USA troops in fights against Isis in Iraq and Syria.

Saudi King Salman raised this question during a meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who had visited the Gulf Kingdom for finding a diplomatic solution to the Qatar crisis.

In another development, two US Navy vessels arrived in the Gulf on Wednesday for a joint exercise with Qatar's fleet, according to Doha state media.

Mattis formerly oversaw US Central Command whose forward operating base is the vast al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar - a hub for the global campaign against the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) in Syria and Iraq.

Saudi Arabia officially severed ties with Iran in January 2016, after the storming of Saudi diplomatic facilities in Iran.

The Qatari Defense Ministry also issued a statement regarding the F-15 deal.

The United States agreed a $12-billion warplane sale to Qatar and began manoeuvres with its military Thursday, re-affirming support for the emirate in the throes of a diplomatic crisis with its neighbours. Mattis formerly oversaw the United States military's Central Command, whose forward operating base is at the vast al-Udeid air base in Qatar.




The announcement comes amid conflicting reactions from the Trump administration in the wake of the rift between Qatar and several Gulf nations.

He doubled down on his accusations on Friday saying: "The nation of Qatar has unfortunately been a funder of terrorism, and at a very high level", adding "the time has come to call on Qatar to end its funding".

Qatar hosts the U.S. largest military base in the Middle East.

"We do not want any differences between our brothers in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries, and it is not enough to say that there is a problem without trying to resolve it", Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke by telephone with his Omani counterpart, Oman state news agency reported.

Qatar on Thursday said that preparations for the 2022 World Cup were unhindered, having secured alternative supplies of construction materials to those that had been coming by land from Saudi Arabia.

U.S. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis and authorities from the Qatar have signed the agreement for the purchase of 36 fighter jets. He's also due to travel to Saudi Arabia. Tillerson said on Tuesday that the US State Department's efforts to resolve the crisis were "trending in a positive direction".


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