Published: Wed, April 11, 2018
World | By Camille Rivera

Qatar leader expected at White House amid crisis in region

Qatar leader expected at White House amid crisis in region

The package of missiles planned to be sold to Qatar contains about 5,000 Advance Precision Kill Weapon Systems (APKWS), including 5,000 high explosive warheads.

A major twist in the Gulf crisis that has gripped the region over the past year appeared on Tuesday, when President Donald Trump welcomed the Qatar emir to the White House.

Qatar has been isolated from America's Persian Gulf allies, who have accused the tiny, oil-rich nation of spreading extremism and allowing funds to flow to terror groups.

The UAE, along with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt, cut off travel and trade ties with Qatar last June, accusing it of supporting terrorism and their arch-rival Iran. Qatar denies all those charges.

Mr. Trump made the remarks while hosting the emir of Qatar at the White House on Tuesday for meetings as he continues his US tour.

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But the USA president has since softened his language against Doha and praised its counter-terrorism efforts.

"Over the past year, Qatar has deepened its alliance with Iran, hacked the emails of a close friend of President Trump, continued supporting Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, and used its Al Jazeera network to run a spying operation against pro-Israel organizations on US soil", said one veteran foreign policy adviser with ties to the White House.

The Broidy hack further exposed a rift in U.S. -Qatar relations. In a phone call last week, Trump credited the emir with working to counter terror financing and extremism.

The APKWS guidance kit transforms an unguided 2.75-inch (70 millimeter) rocket into a precision-guided rocket, giving fighters a low-priced surgical strike capability.

"I look forward to building on the momentum of this meeting, where we will discuss opportunities to strengthen our cooperation in the future", Mattis said.

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Trump had initially advocated for an economic blockade on Qatar, but aides eventually convinced him to take a more moderate approach given the strategic importance of the Al Udeid Air Base outside Doha in U.S. Middle East operations.

Still, Qatar's neighbors are isolating the country, diplomatically and financially.

Trump greeted Qatar's Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani Tuesday.

Information for this article was contributed by Ken Thomas of The Associated Press.

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