Qatar Purchase of US Fighter Jets Not Escalating Diplomatic Row - Turkish FM

Marco Green
June 19, 2017

Qatar contains the the biggest U.S. air base in the Middle East, with around 10,000 troops residing at Al-Udeid.

Qatari minister of state for defence Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah and U.S. defence secretary Jim Mattis met in Washington on Wednesday and signed the deal for the jets believed to be worth $12 billion.

Congress past year approved the sale of as many as 72 F-15s in an agreement valued at as much as US$21 billion, providing authorisation for the deal that was completed on Wednesday.

The Qatari defense ministry issued a statement Wednesday celebrating the F-15 deal.

The agreement was signed on June 14 after a visit to Washington by Qatar's Minister of State for Defense Khalid Al-Attiyah.

The exact number of fighters that will put US to Qatar, do not call.

Qatar will sign a deal to buy as many as 36 F-15 jets from the United States despite tensions over President Donald Trump's backing for a Saudi-led coalition's move to isolate the country for allegedly supporting terrorism.

The sale of U.S. combat aircraft represents a major signal of United States support for Qatar as it faces regional isolation and the severing of travel and trade links.

Regionally, it emphasizes Mattis' vision "to have a balanced relationship with all of America's Gulf Arab partner states, and this move shows that the White House is coming around to the need to strike the appropriate balance between pressuring Qatar and continuing to work closely with it", Heras said.

Just a day before the deal was signed Saudi foreign minister Adel Al-Jubeir was in Washington where he insisted there was no blockade on Qatar despite the three countries closing land, sea and air links to it.

Qatar is facing a severe economic and diplomatic boycott by Saudi Arabia and its regional allies, who cut ties last week accusing it of funding terrorist groups, a charge Doha denies. Given how Trump openly sided with Saudi Arabia in one of his recent Twitter tirades, the deal also signals the lack of coordination within Trump administration.

While no details of the talk were revealed, the Pentagon had earlier renewed its praise of Qatar for hosting a vital US air base and for its "enduring commitment to regional security". The U.S. has a major military base in Qatar.

He was quoted by Kuwait's al-Qabas newspaper and Qatar-based Al Jazeera as saying that Turkey had a neutral stance toward Qatar and Saudi Arabia. "We pay a great attention to our relations with them", he said. "We have to stop the funding of terrorism".

It is not clear when the joint exercise was arranged.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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