DOHA – The United States’ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has signed a memorandum of understanding with Qatar on Sunday in order to expand the al-Udeid military base, Washington’s largest in the Middle East region.
Pompeo described the base, which is home to about 13,000 military personnel, as key to his country’s security, giving no further details on the expansion during a press conference.
Al-Udeid, located in the southern part of Doha, hosts the forward headquarters of the US military Central Command.
In addition, agreements in the fields of education and culture were signed between both countries.
Pompeo, meanwhile, hoped the diplomatic crisis between Qatar and its Gulf Arab neighbors might be resolved soon.
Saudi Arabia led a bloc that last year broke diplomatic and transport links with Qatar, allegedly over its support for terrorist groups, an accusation that Doha has denied.
Pompeo’s visit to Qatar is part of an extensive tour of the Middle East in a bid to reassure allies of Washington’s commitment to the region.
The US official trip came after President Donald Trump announced last month the withdrawal of American troops from Syria, a move that led to the resignation of former defense secretary James Mattis.
Pompeo began his Middle East tour on Tuesday with a visit to Jordan, followed by Iraq, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.
The American secretary of state also is scheduled to visit Oman, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, where he has said he was due to meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.