The News Minute | July 15, 2014 | 08:13 am IST
Washington: US and Qatar have signed an arms deal on Qatar's purchase of US Patriot defence systems and Apache helicopters to the tune of $11 billion, the US Defence Department said in a statement on Monday.
US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel hosted Qatar's Minister of State for Defence Affairs Hamad bin Ali al-Attiyah at the Pentagon on Monday to sign letters of offer and acceptance for Apache helicopters and Patriot and Javelin defence systems worth $11 billion, Xinhua reported.
"Today's signing ceremony underscores the strong partnership between the United States and Qatar in the area of security and defence and will help improve our bilateral cooperation across a range of military operations," said Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby in a statement.
Secretary Hagel also used the meeting to express his appreciation for the support that Qatar provides US forces in the country. "Today's visit followed Secretary Hagel's visit to Doha last fall, where he met with al-Attiyah to sign and renew the US-Qatar Defence Cooperation Agreement," Kirby said.
"This is a critically important relationship in the region," the official said, adding that the secretary is pleased to be able to continue to make the US-Qatar ties stronger.
US Vice President Joe Biden welcomed al- Attiyah at the White House and the two sides discussed regional issues, including Syria, Iraq, Libya, and the Gaza crisis.
During their meeting, Biden noted that the signing of the arms deal will help strengthen strategic relationship between Qatar and the US.
The weapons deal was the biggest for the US in 2014 and would enhance its security and diplomatic ties with Qatar to counter the threat across the Gulf from Iran, experts said.