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U.S.-Saudi Arabia talks over billions in arms sales

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The US is trying to push through multi-billion dollar arms sales contracts with Saudi Arabia before President Trump's forthcoming kingdom visit, a reported Sky News (UK).

The nations want to improve relationships which became strained under the Obama administration partly due to its nuclear deal with Saudi foe Iran.

More than $1bn worth of munitions including armour-piercing Penetrator Warheads and Paveway laser-guided bombs made by Raytheon are among the contracts being negotiated, said Reuters.

The Obama administration had suspended the planned Raytheon sale because of concerns over civilian casualties in the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen.

However, the US has been the main supplier for most Saudi military needs in recent years, from F-15 fighter jets to command-and-control systems.
President Trump has vowed to stimulate the American economy by boosting manufacturing jobs.

Reuters said among the other proposed deals were:
:: A Lockheed Martin-built missile defence system like the one that recently became operational in South Korea.
:: A Lockheed Martin software system for battle command-and-control and communications, as well as a package of satellite capabilities.
:: Combat vehicles made by UK company BAE Systems, including the Bradley Fighting Vehicle and M109 artillery vehicle.

Also under negotiation is an $11.5bn package of four multi-mission surface combatant ships, approved by the US state department in 2015 but which never went to final contract.

If a deal goes through, it would be the first sale of a new small surface warship to a foreign power in decades.

A US-Saudi working group reportedly met at the White House on Monday and Tuesday to negotiate Mr Trump's trip to the kingdom this month, as well as financing for military equipment sales and stopping terrorist financing.

And Saudi foreign minister Adel al Jubeir and other Saudi officials met US politicians on Thursday, including senators Bob Corker and Ben Cardin on the foreign relations committee.

Any major foreign weapons sale is subject to being checked by Congress.

Politicians must take into consideration a legal requirement that Israel must maintain its military edge over its neighbours.

A US administration official said the proposed Raytheon sale was still under review, while other officials said it was US policy not to comment on proposed American defence sales until Congress had been formally told.
BAE and Raytheon declined to comment, while Lockheed said such sales are government-to-government decisions.


Saudi Arabia would like to purchase the most advanced military hardware of Russian manufacture, Deputy Defense Minister Lieutenant-General Aleksander Fomin said at a meeting with the deputy chief of the General Staff of Saudi Arabia’s armed forces, Fayad Hamid al Ruwaili, on the sidelines of the 6th Moscow International Security Conference, reported TASS (Russia).

Fomin said that Russia and Saudi Arabia noticeably stepped military cooperation over the past two or three years.
"We have maintained very proactive cooperation over the past 2.5 years. We have a long list of your likely requests for the most advanced weapon systems," Fomin said.
The Russian Defense Ministry is determined to maintain steady bilateral cooperation in the military and military-technical fields.
"We hope for further open and trusting dialog on the entire range of issues of mutual interest," Fomin concluded.

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Tags: u.s., UK, Saudi Arabia
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