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Pentagon signs deal to sell $11B worth of arms to Qatar

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

The Pentagon is making an $11 billion sale of Apache attack helicopters and Patriot and Javelin air-defense weapons to the Persian Gulf state of Qatar.

Defense 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 center. 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 defenses of its Gulf allies.