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Erdogan Vows Military Support for Qatar During Visit to Doha

Turkey’s unwavering backing of Qatar amid a regional crisis triggered by Saudi Arabia-led Gulf countries’ blockade on the tiny Gulf country has become crystal clear when President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged a military support during a visit to Doha on Wednesday.

President Erdogan is currently visiting Qatar to discuss regional issues as well as to advance cooperation on many sectors given the isolation Qatar faces in its neighborhood.

Mr. Erdogan also signaled the “readiness” of Turkey’s private sector to help Qatar with its multi-billion projects for the 2022 football World Cup, according to the Qatar News Agency.

He held talks with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani during the visit, QNA reported.

It also said the two countries signed a number of financial, tourism and research agreements.

“Erdogan stressed the continued support of Turkey to the State of Qatar in various fields, especially in the industrial and military,” read the QNA statement.

Turkey has a military base in Qatar, which Ankara says has facilities for around 3,000 troops.

During Wednesday’s trip, the Turkish leader visited the Turkish military base with senior Qatari officials, including Defense Minister Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah.

President Erdogan’s backing came during his second official visit to Qatar, a close ally, since a bitter regional crisis began five months ago, threatening to destabilize the Gulf.

The increasingly entrenched dispute erupted on June 5 when Qatar was politically and economically boycotted by a quartet of neighboring countries over its alleged support for terrorist groups and relations with Iran.

Qatar, the world’s largest exporter of liquified natural gas, denies the charges and says the dispute is an attack on its sovereignty.

Mr. Erdogan was in Qatar 24 hours after visiting Kuwait, which has acted as a mediator during the Gulf dispute.

Relations between Turkey and Qatar are exceptionally friendly.

Qatar’s Sheikh Tamim was the first foreign leader to phone President Erdogan during the unsuccessful Turkish coup in July 2016, according to Turkish state media.

Trade between the two countries at the end of 2015 stood at $1.26 billion.

This is figure is likely to grow, partly because of the Gulf crisis, as Qatar has used Turkey to replace traditional regional food suppliers because of the boycott.

Recent contracts won by Turkish companies in Qatar include one to build a 10-lane highway.

In 2016, Qatari broadcaster beIN Media announced it had purchased Turkey’s pay-TV company Digiturk.

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