Two US Navy vessels arrived in Doha to take part in a joint military exercise with the Qatari Emiri Navy just days after US President Donald Trump accused Qatar of being “a funder of terrorism at a very high level”.
Qatar hosts the biggest US military base in the Middle East with more than 11,000 troops deployed or assigned to al-Udeid Air Base. More than 100 aircraft operate from there.
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Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported the arrival of the vessels on Wednesday, the same day that Qatar signed an agreement for the purchase of F-15 fighter jets from the US with an initial cost of $12bn.
The aircraft purchase was completed by Qatari Minister of Defence Khalid Al Attiyah and his US counterpart Jim Mattis in Washington, DC, according to QNA.
The sale “will give Qatar a state-of-the-art capability and increase security cooperation and interoperability between the United States and Qatar”, the defence department said in a statement.
It was unclear if the arrival of the two warships to Doha was planned before the Gulf rift or if was a sign of support from the Pentagon.
Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and a number of other countries severed relations with Qatar earlier this month, accusing it of supporting armed groups and Iran – allegations Qatar has repeatedly rejected.