Qatar to buy seven navy vessels from Italy for €5bn

Italy’s foreign minister hails ‘excellent’ ties with Qatar and voices support for its plans in the international arena.

Qatar stock photos
Qatar demands evidence from the Saudi-led bloc to support their allegations [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

Italy has signed a 5bn-euro ($5.9bn) agreement with Qatar’s naval forces that includes the sale of seven naval units, according to a joint announcement by the foreign ministers of Qatar and Italy.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Qatar’s foreign minister, also announced the signing of two other bilateral agreements that will increase political consultations and joint economic investments between the two countries.

During his one-day visit to Doha, Angelino Alfano, Italy’s foreign minister, stressed his country’s excellent political and economic ties with Qatar and expressed his support for Qatar’s efforts to combat terrorism.

“I would like to point out to our excellent ties with Qatar and that our goal is to support Qatar’s plans in the international arena,” he said.

Speaking about the current crisis between Qatar and a Saudi-led bloc – Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain – Alfano said Italy encourages all parties to use wisdom and engage in dialogue and moderation to end the crisis.

The four Arab countries severed relations with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of supporting “terrorism”.

Qatar has denied the allegation.

‘Important’ step

Commenting on the news that Rex Tillerson, US secretary of state, was sending two envoys to the region to end the crisis in the Arab Gulf region, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman said Qatar welcomes the US efforts, calling it an “important” step towards resolving the impasse in the region.

On Tuesday Tillerson announced the appointment of Timothy Lenderking, US deputy assistant secretary for the Arabian Peninsula, and retired General Anthony Zinni, former head of the US Central Command, to travel to the Arab Gulf region next week to engage with the parties involved.

A state department official said the US envoys will “provide US support to the government of Kuwait’s mediation efforts”.

“Along with our diplomats, General Zinni is expected to continue to hold regular meetings until the countries agree on a resolution,” he said.

Speaking on Al Jazeera TV, Mahjoob Zweiri, Qatar University political scientist, said the US move shows that the US realises that it needs to reinvigorate its diplomatic efforts to make diplomacy its focal point in order to see an end to the crisis.

Blockade against Qatar

The Saudi-led bloc has demanded that Qatar stop supporting the Muslim Brotherhood movement, end ties with rival Iran, and shut broadcaster Al Jazeera which they accuse of inciting unrest in their countries.

But they face mounting international pressure to compromise in their boycott against Qatar, particularly from the US.

Qatar has vigorously rejected the bloc’s accusations and demanded they present evidence to support their claims, which they have yet to do.

Speaking about the need for all countries to combat terrorism, Alfano said: “Terrorism is the public enemy of everyone.”

He said there should be an atmosphere of “good intentions” between all parties in order to end the crisis.

Follow Ali Younes on Twitter @ali_reports

Source: Al Jazeera