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US to upgrade Qatar air ops centre despite Gulf crisis

AFP  |  Washington 

The has approved a request from to upgrade the emirate's air force operations center, officials said Thursday, despite the Gulf diplomatic crisis.

has fallen out with fellow US allies in the Gulf, led by and the United Araba Emirates, over its alleged support for militant groups and ties with

The is trying to broker an end to a Saudi-led diplomatic and economic embargo on gas-rich Qatar, and still maintains a huge air base of its own on its territory.

On Thursday, the State Department approved a plan for to spend $197 million upgrading the technology and logistics capabilities of the Qatari Emiri Air Force operations center.

A statement said the sale would help "the foreign policy and national security of the by helping to improve the security of a friendly country."


Qatar, it said, "has been and continues to be an important force for political stability and economic progress in the region.

"Our mutual defense interests anchor our relationship and the plays a predominant role in Qatar's defense," it said.

The deal underlines the balancing act that is performing in the Gulf as it tries to end in-fighting between Arab monarchies while maintaining a common front against

Three minutes after issuing a statement approving the Qatar deal, the State Department also approved a $270 million deal to sell Sidewinder air-to-air missiles to the

And, using near identical language as before, it described the UAE as "a friendly country" and "an important force for political stability and economic progress in the "

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and cut all diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar last June, closing its only land border and banning all flights to and from the emirate.

Qatar denies claims that it supports Islamist extremist groups, but fellow Gulf monarchies remain annoyed that it hosts the outspoken Al-Jazeera and has warmer ties with

initially took the Saudi side in the dispute, but the relies on Qatar for its biggest base in the region and American diplomats have sought to reconcile the parties.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, March 09 2018. 00:25 IST
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