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emfizz.com June 26, 2017


Timing of Qatar F-15 deal more procedural than political

20 June 2017, 11:14 | Jan Cross

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Defense Secretary James Mattis met with Qatari Defense Minister Khalid al-Attiyah to sign off on a previously-approved deal for $12 billion worth of F-15 fighter jets, part of a more-than-$20 billion package approved by Congress and the Obama administration in November 2016, CBS News reported.

A $12 billion deal to buy U.S. F-15 fighter jets shows Qatar has deep-rooted support from Washington, a Qatari official said on Thursday, despite President Donald Trump's repeated accusations that Doha supports terrorism.

A statement to CNN from the Pentagon says the agreement will "increase security cooperation and interoperability between the United States and Qatar".

Last week, five Arab countries - Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Yemen - cut off ties with Qatar, accusing Doha of what they called supporting terrorism.

Qatar hosts the biggest U.S. military base in the Middle East with 11 000 troops deployed to or assigned to al Udeid Air Base.

Separately US diplomats and secretary of state Rex Tillerson have taken a more balanced approach given the complexities of the dispute and Qata'rs hosting of a US base that is key to its efforts against ISIL and home to some 10,000 troops.

Other countries have now entered the fray and are attempting to broker negotiations between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, including Turkey and Russian Federation. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson initially declined to take sides, but his cautious approach was overshadowed nearly immediately by President Donald Trump - who sent tweets appearing to take credit for and praising the Saudi-led bloc's decision.

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"Are you with us or with Qatar?".

The crews of the two vessels were received by Qatari navy officers, QNA said, citing the statement from the defence ministry.

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

"Turkey stands on the same distance from Qatar and Saudi Arabia", Cavusoglu said. 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.

Trump, who took office in January, has accused Qatar of being a "high-level" sponsor of terrorism, potentially hindering the State Department's efforts to help ease the worst diplomatic crisis between Gulf Arab states for years.

As the rift between Qatar and the Saudi-led bloc enters its second week, Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey's foreign minister, has said that Qatari authorities does not want the diplomatic crisis to continue.

"We are working bring these states together towards a solution which satisfies both their current regional concerns and the global needs and expectations of passengers and shippers", ICAO said.



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