Qatar has signed an agreement to buy 24 Typhoon fighter jets from Britain, the second major defence deal signed by Doha during its lengthy diplomatic dispute with its Gulf neighbours.
Qatar’s defence chief Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah and his British counterpart Michael Fallon signed a “statement of intent” for the UK to sell the planes, according to statements released by London and on social media.
“This will be the first major defence contract with Qatar, one of the UK’s strategic partners,” Fallon said. “This is an important moment in our defence relationship and the basis for even closer defence cooperation between our two countries.
“We also hope that this will help enhance security within the region across all Gulf allies.”
The Eurofighter Typhoon is a joint project between British defence group BAE Systems, France’s Airbus, and Italy’s Finmeccanica.
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The cost of the aircraft deal was not released.
BAE agreed in 2014 to supply Saudi Arabia with 72 Typhoon jets in a deal worth $6bn.
The British ambassador to Qatar, Ajay Sharma, said on Twitter the deal is a “major step” in defence relations between the countries. The development was also confirmed by the official Qatar News Agency on Sunday.
In June this year, it was announced that Qatar agreed to buy F-15 jets from the US in a $12bn deal. And in 2016, Qatar agreed to buy 24 Dassault Rafale fighter jets from France in a deal worth a reported $8bn.
The weapon sales come after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt cut ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of backing “extremism” and fostering ties with their rival Iran.
Qatar has repeatedly denied the charges, claiming the dispute is an attack on its sovereignty.
The crisis has put the region on edge and prompted Turkey to send troops to Doha in a sign of support.
While both sides in the dispute have ruled out the use of force, some ordinary Qataris say they worry about the possibility of military action.
Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, the main mediator in the Gulf dispute, said earlier this month military action has been “stopped”.
In a joint statement, the blockading nations expressed regret about the Kuwaiti emir’s comments. “The military option was not and will not be [used] in any circumstance,” it said.
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Source: News agencies