The United States hopes to move forward with naming Qatar as a major non-NATO ally, a status that provides foreign nations with benefits in defense trade and security cooperation, a senior U.S. official said on Thursday.
"We're going to move ahead, we hope, with designating Qatar a major non-NATO ally," Timothy Lenderking, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for Arabian Gulf affairs, told reporters in a conference call.
U.S. and Qatari officials, including U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Qatar Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, met in Washington earlier this week.
"Major non-NATO ally" (MNNA) status gives a country preferential access to U.S. military equipment and technology, including free surplus material, expedited export processing and prioritized cooperation on training.
Qatar's Government Communications Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Currently 17 countries have MNNA status, including Gulf Arab states Kuwait and Bahrain, which hosts the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet.
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Washington has strong ties with all the states involved and sees the rift as a threat to efforts to contain Iran. It has pushed for a united Gulf front.
U.S. officials have recently expressed a desire to sell the F-35 stealth war plane to the UAE after it agreed last month to normalise ties with Israel. However, Israeli officials have objected, citing U.S. policy for Israel to maintain a military advantage in the region.