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US selling $11 billion in helicopters and air defences to Qatar, a key ally in Persian Gulf

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, left, shakes hands with Qatari Defense Minister Hamad bin Ali al-Attiyah, at the Pentagon, Monday, July 14, 2014, during a signing ceremony. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

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Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, left, shakes hands with Qatari Defense Minister Hamad bin Ali al-Attiyah, at the Pentagon, Monday, July 14, 2014, during a signing ceremony. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

WASHINGTON - The Pentagon is making an $11 billion sale of Apache attack helicopters and Patriot and Javelin air-defence weapons to the Persian Gulf state of Qatar (GUH'-tur).

Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel and his Qatari counterpart, Hamad bin Ali al-Attiyah, met Monday at the Pentagon to sign the deal.

Qatar is a key U.S. ally and hosts a major U.S. air operations centre. Qatar was instrumental in completing the deal that gained the May 31 release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was held for five years by the Taliban, in exchange for the release by the U.S. of five Taliban commanders imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The U.S. in recent years has made a priority of improving the air defences of its Gulf allies.

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