Qatar to expand US airbase as strategic dialogue starts


Qatar will expand the U.S. airbase that currently houses about 10,000 military personnel, Qatar's Defense Minister Khalid bin Mohammad Al-Attiyah said amid a high-level visit to the U.S. capital.

"It will very soon become a family-oriented place for our American friends there. We want more of the families to be stable and feel more comfortable in their stay," Attiyah said at a Heritage Foundation forum in Washington, as reported by Al-Jazeera.

Qatar hosts some 10,000 American soldiers at Al Udeid Air Base, which hosts the forward operating base of the U.S. military's Central Command. The expansion will allow for 200 more housing units for U.S. officers and their families.

Qatari-U.S. strategic dialogue started yesterday. The foreign, defense and finance ministers are fanning out throughout Washington this week in a series of events, as Qatari officials hope to use the visit to set up talks to end the ongoing diplomatic crisis.

In early June, a group of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia abruptly severed diplomatic relations with Qatar and imposed a blockade on the tiny Gulf emirate, accusing it of supporting terrorism. U.S. President Donald Trump had also accused Doha of funding militant groups, saying that Qatar had historically supported terrorism "at a very high level." The Qatari government has denied the accusations, blasting the blockade as unjustified and a violation of international law.

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