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U.S. Moves To Reassure Qatar With Arms Sale, Joint Exercise

A $12-billion deal for F-15 fighter jets was signed by Qatar in Washington on June 15. (file photo)

The United States on June 15 agreed a $12-billion warplane sale to Qatar and began maneuvers with its military, reaffirming support for the emirate amid a diplomatic crisis involving Qatar and its neighbors.

A deal for the F-15 fighter jets was signed by Qatar in Washington, which has sent mixed signals to its longtime ally in the crisis that has seen Saudi Arabia and several other countries in the region impose sweeping sanctions on the emirate.

U.S. President Donald Trump last week expressed support for the Saudi-led accusations against Qatar, saying that it had "historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level."

Pentagon and State Department officials have since reassured the emirate, which hosts the largest U.S. airbase in the Middle East and the command headquarters for U.S. military operations in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis welcomed his Qatari counterpart Khalid al-Attiyah to Washington on June 14 for the F-15 sale.

"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.

It did not provide additional details on the sale but Bloomberg reported it could involve as many as 36 warplanes.

Attiyah said the agreement would boost Qatar's defences and create 60,000 jobs in the United States.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters