Friday, 23 June, 2017

Trump signs Qatar weapons deal despite terrorism claims

US Qatar $12 billion Representational Image
Kenny Thornton | 19 June, 2017, 15:41

Qatar's Ministry of Defense said on Wednesday the country signed a deal to buy F-15 fighter jets from the United States for $12 billion.

Qatar and the U.S. finalized Wednesday a $12 billion military deal for procurement of F-15 fighters by Qatar amid the Gulf Crisis opposing the tiny Arab state to its regional neighbors led by Saudi Arabia.

ICAO - a United Nations agency that regulates worldwide air travel under the Chicago Convention - had said it would host talks of ministers and senior officials from Qatar, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt to seek a "consensus-based solution" that addressed "current regional concerns". 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.

Mr Trump's comments appeared at odds with the US Department of Defence, which had praised Qatar's "enduring commitment to regional security" just days earlier. It was part of the $21.1-billion deal signed in November, a US State Department official told Sputnik Thursday.

In another development, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu held talks in Doha with with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani and Economy and Trade Minister Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim al-Thani.

Qatar has expressed its frustration at not receiving specific demands from the Saudi alliance, complicating efforts to reach a diplomatic solution.

The Pentagon said the jets sale would increase security cooperation between the United States and Qatar and help them operate together.

Council says van struck people leaving mosque
Local people observe prayers at Finsbury Park where a vehicle struck pedestrians in London Monday, June 19, 2017 . Vanzella said she saw police put a man into a police auto and take him away, but she didn't see them arrest him.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke by telephone with his Omani counterpart, Oman state news agency reported. Qatar is home to the biggest United States military base in the Middle East.

However, it will be a "cause of concern" for Washington's other allies in the region, most notably Saudi Arabia, which led the push to cut diplomatic ties with Qatar.

The crisis between Qatar and its Arab neighbors, all U.S. allies, has put America in a delicate situation.

The US position was further muddied last Friday, when Tillerson called on Saudi Arabia to ease the blockade, only to have Trump, at a White House news conference hours later, say the blockade had been the right move.

After an initial run on grocery stores by nervous residents, Qatar has organized dairy shipments from Turkey while Shiite power Iran also has begun shipping in food.

As you know, a number of Arab countries severed diplomatic ties with Qatar. Kuwait has led efforts to mediate the dispute.

Typically, Qatar Airways flights to the West flew over Saudi Arabia.

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