Qatar signs $12 billion deal to buy F-15 jets from US


A $12 billion deal to buy U.S. F-15 fighter jets shows Qatar has deep-rooted support from Washington, a Qatari official said on Thursday, despite President Donald Trump's repeated accusations that Doha supports terrorism.

The Pentagon did not provide additional details on the sale but Bloomberg reported it could include as many as 36 warplanes.

"The nation of Qatar, unfortunately, has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level", Trump said earlier this month.

Qatar hosts the USA largest military base in the Middle East.

Cavusoglu also said he would visit Kuwait later on Wednesday and meet Saudi Arabian King Salman Bin Abdulaziz al-Saud on Friday in Mecca to resolve the Gulf crisis.

In November, under the administration of Barack Obama, the United States approved a possible sale of up to 72 F-15QA aircraft to Qatar for $21.1 billion.

The biggest USA airbase in the Middle East is situated in Qatar and the country often helps USA troops in fights against Isis in Iraq and Syria.

Pentagon and State Department officials have since scrambled to reassure the emirate, which houses the largest USA airbase in the Middle East and the command headquarters for U.S. military operations in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. That base serves an important role in managing the fight against the IS in Iraq and Syria, as well as the war in Afghanistan.

The USS Cole off the coast of Yemen in February.

Qatar's Defense Ministry said the deal would create 60,000 jobs in 42 USA states while reducing the burden on U.S. forces.

"US 5th Fleet ships conduct similar port visits throughout the region as part of our normal operations", Urban told the AP.

In 2015, Ankara also offered Riyadh to establish a military base on the territory of Saudi Arabia.

"ICAO is presently reviewing requests from the government of Qatar to assess the flight restrictions imposed upon it by neighboring states", an ICAO statement said, according to Reuters.

The Pentagon reassurance differed from Trump's comments that applauded the decision who seemed to take credit for the blackade on Qatar and the cutting of diplomatic ties. But its cutoff air travel routes remain problematic.

"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.

However, it remains unclear how the organization that doesn't issue binding rules could force the Arab nations to reopen their airspace to Qatar.