US-Qatar ink $12 billion military deal amid ongoing blockade
The US and Qatar inked a $12 billion military deal for US-manufactured F-15 fighters, the Pentagon confirmed on Wednesday, as the Gulf state continues to face a blockade from its neighbouring countries
US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and his Qatari counterpart Khalid al-Attiyah signed a letter of agreement on Wednesday.
"The $12-billion sale will give Qatar a state-of-the-art capability and increase security cooperation and interoperability between the United States and Qatar," the Pentagon said in a statement.
Mattis and al-Attiyah also discussed mutual security concerns, including the Islamic State group and "the importance of de-escalating tensions so all partners in the Gulf region can focus on next steps in meeting common goals."
The Pentagon did not provide additional details on the sale but Bloomberg reported it could include as many as 36 warplanes.
The State Department last year said it had authorized the sale of 72 F-15 Strike Eagle jets to Qatar.
That deal was worth an estimated value of $21 billion.
But the sale comes amid a simmering crisis in the Gulf after, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt and Yemen severed ties with Doha for its alleged support of terrorism.
US President Donald Trump has signalled his support for the Saudi-led move but other US officials have been more cautious and called for dialogue to end the crisis.