Qatar says arms purchases ‘none of Saudi’s business’

Doha: Qatar on Monday told rival Saudi Arabia not to meddle in its potential arms purchases from Russia, as the Gulf state weighs the controversial purchase of an air defence system.

“Regarding the arms sales that Qatar has with Russia… we believe that Saudi Arabia, or any other countries, it is none of their business,” Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said at a news conference in Doha with his visiting Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

“It’s a sovereign decision that should be taken by the state of Qatar,” said Sheikh Mohammed when asked about a possible purchase of the S-400, a sophisticated Russian-made anti-aircraft weapon system.

He said talks on the purchase were ongoing, while Lavrov also confirmed that talks on “bilateral” military cooperation with gas-rich Qatar were taking place.

The possible arms deal first surfaced last year, sparking backlash by Gulf powerhouse Saudi Arabia — which along with the UAE and their allies cut all ties with Doha in 2017 over allegations of support for Islamist extremists and Shiite Iran.

Qatar denies the allegations and says its rivals want regime change in Doha.

Saudi King Salman last year expressed Riyadh’s concern over the potential deal to buy S-400s in a letter to French President Emmanuel Macron, threatening military action if Qatar went ahead with the purchase.