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Pentagon agrees to $12 billion jet deal with Qatar

17 June 2017

Qatari Minister of Defence Khalid Al Attiyah and his U.S. counterpart Jim Mattis completed the formalities for the purchase of the fighter jets in Washington on Wednesday, Al Jazeera reported citing Qatar News Agency (QNA).

The agreement was reached a few weeks after the US President Donald trump has signed a contract with Saudi Arabia for the supply of American weapons nearly 110 billion.

It added that US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis and Qatar's Defence Minister Khalid al-Attiyah had also discussed the current state of operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) and the importance of de-escalating tensions in the Gulf.

The Pentagon indicated in its statement that the new weapons deal, which includes the sale of F-15 fighter jets, will increase security cooperation between the two countries.

The State Department a year ago said it had authorized the sale of 72 F-15 Strike Eagle jets to Qatar.

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Two signs of US solidarity with Qatar coming so close on the heels of President Trump's tweets attacking the country for being a sponsor of terrorism are creating substantial confusion, both in the USA and among allies overseas.

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.

Cavusoglu held talks in Kuwait with his counterpart Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Sabah on Thursday to push mediation efforts aimed at resolving the standoff between a Saudi-led alliance and Qatar.

Washington and Doha have signed an agreement for the purchase of F-15 fighter jets, with an initial cost of $12 billion, as US President Donald Trump's administration attempts to navigate an ongoing diplomatic crisis in the Gulf.

Saudi Arabia along with its allies UAE, Egypt and Bahrain have cut ties with Qatar after accusing it of harboring hostile elements.

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Attiyah was quoted by the official Qatar News Agency as saying the deal would create 60,000 jobs in the United States.

The UN aviation agency says it is reviewing Qatar's request to intervene in a diplomatic spat which has seen a Saudi-led bloc close its airspace to flights from Doha. Qatar's ambassador to the United States, Meshal Hamad al-Thani, posted a picture of the signing ceremony on Twitter.

Defense analyst Nicholas A. Heras of the Center for a New American Security said the agreement falls under the category of "long-running deals that need to be cleared after review by different elements of the USA government".

"The situation we have been going through in this [holy month of] Ramadan is a really undesired one".

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

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