Hagel tours low-profile US base in Qatar

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Associated Press

Posted on December 10, 2013 at 11:00 AM

AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar (AP) — The U.S. air operations center in Qatar has long been a hub where combat sorties into Iraq and Afghanistan were tracked and international forces kept watch over hotspots in the Persian Gulf and western Mediterranean Sea. But for years it's kept a low profile in a region sometimes reluctant to advertise its significant U.S. military presence.

On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel toured the center at al Udeid Air Base and spoke of its importance.

His visit lifts the veil off a key American base and underscores one of the themes of Hagel's weeklong trip across the region: telling allies that the end of the Afghanistan war, the tentative Iran nuclear deal and budget pressures at home do not mean that the U.S. will abandon them.

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