The U.S. State Department has approved a possible $1.1 billion sale of support services and facilities to Qatar for its F-15QA fighter aircraft program, a Pentagon agency said Wednesday.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency said it notified Congress of the possible sale, which includes design, construction and other services and facilities. The F-15 is made by Boeing Co.
The approval comes in the middle of the diplomatic stand-off between the Gulf emirate and its neighbors.
U.S. President Donald Trump took Riyadh's side in June when Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism.
But Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has taken a more cautious line, attempting to broker an agreement to cool ties and build a regional front against Iranian influence and extremism.
On Wednesday, the State Department announced it had approved a $1.1 billion contract to service Qatar's F-15QA jets and build them ground facilities and hardened bunkers.
"Qatar is an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Persian Gulf region," the department said, in a note from its Defense Security Cooperation Agency.
"Our mutual defense interests anchor our relationship and the Qatar Emiri Air Force plays a predominant role in Qatar's defense."
The new maintenance and training facilities will also come with improved "cyber security services, mission critical computer resources, support services, force protection services."
Tillerson visited both Riyadh and the Qatari capital Doha last month in an effort to curb Iran's influence in the region and urge the Arab monarchies to negotiate away their differences.
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