US, Qatar sign $12bn fighter jet deal amid Persian Gulf row

The US has signed a $12-billion deal to sell F-15 fighter jets to Qatar amid a dispute engulfing the Persian Gulf region, which saw President Donald Trump siding with a Saudi-led bloc of nations facing off against Doha.

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

According to Qatar News Agency (QNA), the deal was inked by Qatari Defense Khalid al-Attiyah and his US counterpart, James Mattis, in Washington.

The Pentagon also announced in a statement that the sale would give Qatar “a state of the art capability and increase security cooperation and interoperability” between Doha and Washington.

It added that Attiyah and Mattis also discussed the current level of operations against the Daesh terrorist group as well as the importance of reducing tensions in the Persian Gulf region.

Attiyah, in turn, said the agreement underscores the “commitment in advancing our military cooperation for closer strategic collaboration in our fight to counter violent extremism.”

The announcement came days after the US president accused Qatar of being a “high-level” sponsor of terrorism.

In early June, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) abruptly cut relations with Doha and suspended all land, air and sea traffic with the monarchy, accusing it of supporting terrorism and destabilizing the region.

Trump later took to Twitter to praise the move, implying that it was the fruit of his first visit to the Middle East in late May.

“I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar-look!” he wrote, referring to his talks in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, adding that “perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism.”

During the visit, Trump signed the largest single arms deal in US history with Saudi King Salman to sell Riyadh $110 billion in arms.