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The New Arab

Qatar opens military office in Washington

Qatar and the US recently held a join military exercise [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 24 October, 2017

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Qatar is continuing efforts to strengthen ties with its US ally amid a Saudi-led blockade, with the opening of a new military office in Washington.
The government of Qatar has opened a new military office in Washington in a display of close security ties with the US amid a Saudi-led blockade.

Qatar's Defence Ministry inaugurated the military attaché office on Monday in the Georgetown neighbourhood, a few blocks from the Qatari embassy.

The oil-rich Gulf state is seeking to cast itself as a reliable US counterterrorism partner amid a now five-month long Gulf diplomatic crisis.

Nearly five months ago, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt cut ties with Qatar and imposed an embargo on Doha, accusing it of supporting terrorism and close ties to Iran.

Qatar has denied the allegations and has rejected the conditions of a proposed settlement to the diplomatic and economic boycott.

Riyadh's demands are not entirely clear, but they include the closure of media outlets such as Al Jazeera and The New Arab, mothballing a Turkish military base in Qatar, and payment of "compensation" to Gulf states and Egypt.

Qatar has sought to strengthen ties with the US since the boycott began in June. In July, the allies signed an agreement aimed at shoring up the Gulf nation's counter-terrorism efforts. 

Qatar, which is home to the US's largest air base in the region, also in August held a joint training exercise with US paratroopers, which American officials said reinforced "the enduring military-to-military" partnership between the two countries.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has attempted to facilitate a dialogue through talks with the feuding parties as well as supporting a Kuwaiti mediation effort but has so far been unsuccessful.

He renewed those calls after holding talks on Sunday both in Riyadh and Doha but admitted that progress seemed unlikely. "We cannot force talks between parties who are not ready to talk," he said.

US President Donald Trump initially suggested he was closer to the Saudi position, but the US Department of Defence and Tillerson's State Department have urged an end to the blockade and described Doha's position as reasonable. 

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