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US-Qatar agree to $12bn military jet deal

As crisis in Gulf simmers, US deal with Qatar may include as many as 36 F-15 fighter jets
Boeing is prime contractor on fighter jet sale to Qatar (AFP)

US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and his Qatari counterpart Khalid al-Attiyah signed a letter of agreement on Wednesday for a $12bn sale of US-manufactured F-15 fighters, the Pentagon said.

The sale comes amid a simmering crisis in the Gulf after Qatar's neighbors accused it of supporting terrorism and cut diplomatic ties.

"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 in a statement. 

Mattis and al-Attiyah also discussed mutual security concerns, including the Islamic State group and "the importance of de-escalating tensions so all partners in the Gulf region can focus on next steps in meeting common goals."

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

Boeing is the prime contractor on the fighter jet sale to the Middle East nation. Boeing declined to comment.

President Donald Trump on Friday accused Qatar of being a "high-level" sponsor of terrorism, potentially hindering the US Department of State's efforts to ease heightening tensions and a blockade of the Gulf nation by Arab states and others.

Last month, the US had agreed on an arms deals with Saudi Arabia worth almost $110bn during the first day of President Donald Trump's visit to the kingdom, with options for as much as $350bn over 10 years.

Trump hailed the $110bn deal for Saudi purchases of US defence equipment and services, which was reached during meetings in Riyadh.

"That was a tremendous day. Tremendous investments in the United States," Trump said at talks with Saudi King Salman.

"Hundreds of billions of dollars of investments into the United States and jobs, jobs, jobs."

The State Department last year said it had authorised the sale of 72 F-15 Strike Eagle jets to Qatar. 

That deal was worth an estimated $21bn.

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