The US will maintain good relations with Qatar, President Donald Trump has told an American news channel, adding that the US airbase will not be moved out of the Middle Eastern country despite the diplomatic and economic blockade imposed on Doha by the Saudi-led group.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt imposed a land, sea and air blockade on Qatar on June 5.
Qatar is home to the Al-Udeid airbase that holds the forward headquarters of Central Command and hosts around 10,000 American troops.
But while saying there are “10 countries willing to build us another base”, Trump said “we will not have a problem with the military base”.
“We are going to have a good relationship with Qatar and not going to have a problem with the military base,” Trump said in an interview with CBN News aired on Wednesday.
“If we ever had to leave, we’d have 10 countries willing to build us another one. And they’ll pay for it. The days of us paying for things are largely over.”
Following the Arab countries’ decision to impose the blockade on Qatar last month, Trump, in a series of tweets, seemed to back the move, saying his trip to the Middle East is “already paying off” after he “stated there can no longer be funding of radical Ideology”.
“I made a speech in Saudi. I said we got to stop funding of terrorism. They [Qatar] were known as funders of terrorism. We can’t have wealthy countries funding terrorism,” Trump said in Wednesday’s interview.
He visited Saudi Arabia in May on the first leg of his first foreign trip since taking office and held a series of meetings with the king and other Arab and Muslim leaders.
During the two-day visit, Trump also signed an arms deal with Saudi Arabia worth almost $110bn – something he alluded to in the interview.
“Saudi Arabia put up hundreds of billions of dollars of money going into buying our planes and our military equipment and investing in our country. And I said, ‘You have to do that otherwise I am not going.’ So they spent hundreds of billions of dollars right in front of us,” Trump said.
“I mean they were signing big people from the biggest countries and companies, General Electric and all of the big companies, many of them were there getting contracts, all good work for our workers – that was one of the things.”
Qatar is also among the countries which purchases military equipment from the US.
Last month, the US and Qatar signed a deal for the purchase of F-15 fighter jets with an initial cost of $12bn.