Trump signs Qatar weapons deal despite terrorism claims

19 June, 2017, 12:55 | Author: Leticia Walters

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis welcomed his Qatari counterpart Khalid al-Attiyah to Washington on Wednesday for the F-15 sale.

"This agreement underscores the longstanding commitment of the State of Qatar in jointly working with our friends and allies in the United States", al-Attiyah said in the statement.

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

Soon after the Gulf countries announced that they were cutting all ties with Qatar, Trump in a series of tweets accused Qatar of supporting "terror" thereby overshadowing US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's attempts to remain neutral amid the crisis.

Reconciliation efforts have expanded to resolve the crisis between Qatar and Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, after the intervention of Russian Federation and Morocco; this, in addition to the efforts exerted by Kuwait and the United States since the beginning of the crisis.

The deal comes just weeks after Trump signed a deal with Saudi Arabia for nearly $110 billion in USA arms.

Qatar is facing an economic and diplomatic boycott by Saudi Arabia and its regional allies who cut ties in the worst rift among Persian Gulf Arab states in years.

USA agrees with KSA/UAE that Qatar is a "state-sponsor of terrorism", and then sells Qatar $12 billion in arms.

The Pentagon last week renewed praise of Qatar for hosting the U.S. airbase and for its "enduring commitment to regional security". After that, he went to Kuwait, which also tries to play the role of an intermediary for the restoration of relations between Doha and the Arab countries.

Boeing which is the maker of these fighter planes did not comment on the controversial sale. Mattis formerly oversaw the US military's Central Command, whose forward operating base is at the vast al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar.

The Bloomberg News pointed out that, while Trump appeared to back Saudi Arabia and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson took a more neutral tone, the Defense Department underscored its relations with Qatar, saying the US was grateful to the country for its support of the USA presence there.

The agreement also was signed amid the diplomatic row between the bloc of countries headed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Also on Wednesday, two USA naval warships sailed into Doha to take part in joint military exercises with the Qatari navy.

One of the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the private talks, said the airspace dispute would be hard to resolve because it is a symptom of a larger row between the countries.

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