By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - The top U.S. and Qatari defense chiefs discussed a "broad range" of mutual security issues including Doha's pledge to upgrade a key air base in the country, the Pentagon said Wednesday.
During their conversation Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Qatari Minister of State for Defense Affairs Khalid al-Attiyah reaffirmed "the strategic security partnership between the U.S. and Qatar," Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a readout of the meeting.
Among the topics discussed was Qatar's commitment "to upgrade and modernize the infrastructure on Al Udeid Air Base," Hoffman said.
"The leaders also noted the need for increased partnership in countering threats to regional economic infrastructure and the free flow of commerce throughout the region," Hoffman added in a likely nod to Iran.
Last week, a seven-nation group that includes Washington and Doha designated 25 targets affiliated with Iran over alleged support for terrorism.
Of the designated targets 21 are individuals, banks and corporations comprising a vast network of businesses providing financial support to the Basij Resistance Force (Basij).
Four were Hezbollah-linked individuals, who the statement said "lead and coordinate the group’s operational, intelligence, and financial activities in Iraq."
In April, Washington listed Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terror organization to increase pressure on Iran.