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Qatar finalizes $8bn weapons deal with UK

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Qatar has signed a major weapons deal to buy 24 Typhoon fighters from the United Kingdom amid a political stand-off with former Arab allies of the Persian Gulf region.

Qatar’s Defense Minister Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah and his British counterpart, Gavin Williamson, signed the deal on Sunday in the Qatari capital of Doha.

The agreement, worth USD 8 billion (6.8 billion euros), is the latest to come from Doha amid a diplomatic row with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt. The four cut their diplomatic ties with Qatar six months ago over allegations of its support for terrorism. They have even warned of further action if Doha does not mend its regional policies.

Qatar has showed no sign that it is ready to bow to the pressures while maintaining that it would remain independent in its foreign policy. It has also rejected key conditions put forward by the four countries for normalization, including a downgrade in ties with regional power Iran and expulsion of Turkish troops from the Qatari soil.

The deal signed Sunday is Qatar’s second major military agreement this week. An agreement to buy 12 French Dassault Aviation warplanes worth of billions of dollars came on December 7.

Williamson, British defense chief, hailed the Sunday agreement with Qatar and said it was the biggest order for Typhoons in a decade. He said the fighter jets will support “stability in the region and delivering security at home”.

Arab countries of the Persian Gulf region are major customers for weapons made in the West. Spearheaded by Saudi Arabia, the countries have signed deals worth of tens of billions of US dollars with major western arm producers over the past years.

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