Turkish FM urges peace, dialogue in Gulf crisis

"We are pleased to announce today the signing of the letter of offer and acceptance for the purchase of the F-15QA fighter jets, with an initial cost of $12 billion dollars", Qatari Defense Minister Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah said in a statement Wednesday, according to CBS News.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson initially declined to take sides, but his cautious approach was overshadowed nearly immediately by President Donald Trump - who sent tweets appearing to take credit for and praising the Saudi-led bloc's decision.

The deal is for reportedly for 36 jets, after the Obama administration approved a possible sale for up to 72 jets for $21.1 billion past year.

Tillerson's comments however came the same day of a barage of tweets from President Donald Trump hailing the blockade as a triumph of his recent visit to the Middle East, which focused on curbing terror financing.

Qatar hosts the biggest U.S. military base in the Middle East with 11 000 troops deployed to or assigned to al Udeid Air Base. Kuwait has led efforts to mediate the dispute.

Turkey sent its foreign minister to Qatar as part of a drive to resolve the crisis.

In separate development, the Qatari state news agency QNA and Doha-based Al Jazeera report that two US vessels, namely the USS Chinook, a coastal patrol ship, and US Coast Guard Cutter Baranof arrived Wednesday in Qatar for military drill with the Qatari navy. Qatar hosts the regional headquarters for U.S. Central Command, which includes a state-of-the-art air base the U.S. depends on to target "Islamic State".

Three Arab nations - Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic ties with Doha.

"Qatar and the United States have solidified their military co-operation by having fought together side by side for many years now in an effort to eradicate terrorism and promote a future of dignity and prosperity", al-Attiyah said in a statement. Erdogan said he had never witnessed Doha supporting terrorism, adding Turkey "will continue to give all kinds of support to Qatar".

Qatar had asked the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to intervene after its Gulf neighbors closed their airspace to Qatar flights.

At least one unnamed White House source told MSNBC two days later that Trump "may not have known" that Qatar is home to the militarily crucial Al Udeid Air Base. "We pay a great attention to our relations with them", he said.

Visiting Kuwait on Thursday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Qatari officials denied causing the crisis.

  • Zachary Reyes