02:28 GMT03 April 2020
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The government of Qatar is expanding US military's Al Udeid Air Base and seeks to make the facility and US presence there "permanent," Qatari Defense Minister Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah said during remarks at a think tank in Washington, DC on Monday.

    "We have a big plan to expand Al Udeid to make it permanent," Al Attiyah said. "Colleagues in the US Department of Defense are reluctant to mention the word permanent, but we are working from our side to make it permanent. We are planning for a 2040 Vision in the military-to-military cooperation with the United States in all aspects whether it is in the Air Force, Navy or the land force."

    Al Udeid is already the largest US military base in the Middle East.

    The military base in Qatar is home to the US Air Force Central Command (AFCENT). It houses as many as 11,000 personnel and is critical for the projection of US air power in the region.

    Meanwhile, Qatar’s possible purchase of Russian S-400 air defense missile systems will have no effect on the solid relationship the kingdom has with the United States, Qatari Defense Minister Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah said on Monday.

    "I think our relation with the United States is much deeper than it will be affected by if we buy from here or there. You know we have a rooted, historical, whether military-to-military or education or energy [relationship] with the United States. So I don't think such a thing will affect the historical, solid relation with the United States," Al Attiyah said at the Heritage Foundation.

    Al Attiyah noted that the Qatari ministry of defense had not announced the purchase of Russian S-400 systems yet.

    The defense chief underscored that a purchase of the S-400, along with weapons systems from other countries, would be no "substitute for our relation with the United States."

    Qatari Ambassador to Russia Fahad bin Mohammed Attiyah told Sputnik in December that Doha hopes to conclude the talks with Russia on signing a contract for purchases of Russian-made air defense systems soon.


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    base, military presence, military, troops, security, cooperation, S-400, US Air Force Central Command, AFCENT, Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah, United States, Russia, Qatar
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