Timing of Qatar F-15 deal more procedural than political

Turkish FM Qatar

Al Udeid Air Base is home to more than 11,000 US and coalition troops.

"It is confusing, and the worst thing you want to do in a heated, delicate situation like this is to give mixed messages", Dr Paul Sullivan, a Middle East specialist at Georgetown University in Washington, said of the Pentagon announcement.

Just in November previous year, US has approved a possible sale of F-15QA aircraft to Qatar for $21.1 billion where it can get upto 72 fighter aircrafts.

But that was before Qatar's neighbours, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, severed diplomatic, trade and transport links last week in a move that they said was aimed at isolating the country for its support of terrorist groups and Iran.

A Qatari defense ministry source said the deal was for 36 jets.

In another development, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu held talks in Doha with with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani and Economy and Trade Minister Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim al-Thani.

"America's relationship with Qatar is built on the foundation of bilateral security agreements and Qatar's strong role in facilitating USA military forward deployment in the Middle East". Kuwait has led efforts to mediate the dispute which had affected food imports and raised questions over the Gulf Arab state's plans to host the 2022 World Cup.

Meanwhile, the Qatari news agency reported Wednesday that two US Navy vessels arrived in Doha to take part in a joint military exercise with the Qatari Emiri Navy.

"It indicates that the US Department of Defense under Mattis is performing the grunt work of keeping the US-Qatari security relationship moving forward", Heras said.

On Friday, the Turkish foreign minister is expected to visit Saudi Arabia and share Turkey's "sincere views" on the crisis during a meeting with Saudi officials.

Trump, who took office in January, has accused Qatar of being a "high-level" sponsor of terrorism, potentially hindering the State Department's efforts to help ease the diplomatic crisis.

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