USA moves to reassure Qatar with arms sale, joint exercise

Two warships of the US Navy arrived at the Hamad Port in Doha on Wednesday "to participate in a joint exercise with the Qatari Emiri Navy", the Qatari Ministry of Defence said in a statement released on QNA.

"The secretary and the minister also discussed mutual security interests, including the current status of operations against ISIS, and the importance of de-escalating tensions so all partners in the Gulf region can focus on next steps in meeting common goals", Cabiness added.

The U.S. military announced a similar $21.1 billion deal in November, in the waning days of the Obama administration, for 72 F-15QA fighter jets for Qatar, the Associated Press reported. Boeing, the prime contractor on the sale, declined to comment.

On Wednesday, Rex Tillerson, in testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Relations, said it was problematic to list the entirety of the Muslim Brotherhood - one of the "extremist" groups the Saudi-led block has accused Qatar of supporting - as "terrorists".

Pic: ReutersMONTREAL: The United Nations aviation agency said on Wednesday it was reviewing a request from Qatar to intervene after its Gulf neighbours closed their airspace to Qatar flights, part of the region's biggest diplomatic row and trade blockade in years. It also hosts the largest USA military base in the region.

Earlier this month, several Gulf nations including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, severed ties with Qatar over their links to the Iranian Regime and related terror groups.

After the Gulf countries moved against Qatar, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson initially declined to take sides in the crisis, but his cautious stance was overshadowed nearly immediately by Trump, who sent a series of tweets that appeared to take credit for and praise the decision.

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Qatar is a key American ally in the Middle East and an important exporter of natural gas.

"This is of course proof that U.S. institutions are with us but we have never doubted that", Reuters news agency quoted a Qatari official in Doha as saying.

Cavusoglu held talks in Kuwait with his counterpart Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al Sabah on Thursday to push mediation efforts aimed at resolving the dispute.

Qatar's state news agency said on Wednesday that two US warships arrived at Hamad port in Qatar as part of a planned joint military exercise involving marine forces.

"If I was betting now, I would suggest this is going to go on for a very long time", Roberts said of the crisis.

Qatar-based Al Jazera carried similar remarks.

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