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Trump signs Qatar weapons deal despite terrorism claims

25 June 2017

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

Pic: ReutersMONTREAL: The United Nations aviation agency said on Wednesday it was reviewing a request from Qatar to intervene after its Gulf neighbours closed their airspace to Qatar flights, part of the region's biggest diplomatic row and trade blockade in years.

In light of the six Middle Eastern countries that cut all ties with Qatar last week, Donald Trump had approved of their decision, saying: "The nation of Qatar has unfortunately been a funder of terrorism, and at a very high level".

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Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah has launched a mediation effort after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed ties with Qatar, accusing it of sponsoring terrorism. Erdogan said he had never witnessed Doha supporting terrorism, adding Turkey "will continue to give all kinds of support to Qatar".

In another development, two US Navy vessels arrived in Doha on Wednesday for a joint exercise with Qatar's fleet.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and his Qatari counterpart Khalid Al-Attiyah finalized the $12 billion agreement at the Pentagon on Wednesday, following nearly a year of negotiations and deliberations that involved the US Congress. Our militaries are like brothers.

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One Qatari source said that the Emirate was purchasing 36 of the F-15 tactical fighter jets in the deal finalized in Washington on Thursday. Reuters quotes a European diplomat who curbed some of Qatar's enthusiasm by pointing out the timing of the long-developing deal was coincidental, and there is no firm connection between arms deals and foreign policy. "We pay a great attention to our relations with them", he said.

Despite the rift between #Qatar and its Arab neighbors, The United States has struck a deal that would see a $12 billion worth of US F-15 fighters sold to the Gulf nation. "We believe that this agreement will propel Qatar's ability to provide for its own security while also reducing the burden placed upon the United States military in conducting operations against violent extremism".

The sale will increase security cooperation and interoperability between the U.S. and Qatar, the Pentagon said.

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Obama had been hesitant of the deal over concerns that it didn't fit into America's defense strategy in the region and Israel was anxious about the weapons falling into the wrong hands.