The U.S. and Qatar plan to expand al-Udeid airbase, the biggest military facility used by Washington in the Gulf, Qatari state media said late Tuesday. The two countries have also discussed making al-Udeid a "permanent" base, the official QNA news agency said.
QNA said representatives from both countries on Tuesday "laid the foundation stone for expanding" al-Udeid. But the Pentagon played down the development, pointing out nothing concrete had been decided.
Around 10,000 U.S. troops are deployed in al-Udeid, the largest U.S. base in the Gulf where Washington stocks munitions and equipment and deploys warplanes used in the battle against the Daesh terrorist group. Other members of the U.S.-led coalition fighting Daesh in Syria and Iraq are also deployed at al-Udeid, located 35 kilometers (20 miles) southwest of Doha.
In April, U.S. President Donald Trump welcomed to the White House the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, for talks on improving bilateral ties that had been strained by Qatar's row with Gulf states. The year-long crisis has seen Saudi Arabia and a number of its Arab allies impose a diplomatic and trade embargo on Qatar. Trump had initially supported an economic blockade on Qatar, but his aides convinced him to take a more moderate approach.