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US approves USD 1 billion arms deal for Saudi Arabia

News Agencies | Updated on: 23 March 2018, 9:49 IST

The US State Department on Thursday approved a nearly USD one billion deal in new arms sales for Saudi Arabia and notified the Congress of the same.

The proposed deals to Riyadh include a USD 670 million sale for more than 6,600 TOW (Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire-guided) 2B missiles, and a USD 300 million sale for spare vehicle parts for the Royal Saudi Land Forces Ordnance Corps, The Hill reported.

"This possible missile sale will support US foreign policy and national security objectives by improving the security of a friendly country which has been, and continues to be, an important force for political stability and economic growth in the Middle East," the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), which oversees foreign military sales, said in a statement.

It added that the missile would "assist Saudi Arabia to sustain itself in its efforts to maintain stability."

The spare vehicle parts, meanwhile, will "allow the Royal Saudi Land Forces Ordnance Corps to continue to purchase needed spare/repair parts to maintain Saudi Arabia's fleet of M1A2 Abrams Tanks, M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs), Light Armored Vehicles (LAVs), M198 Towed Howitzers," among other vehicles, according to a separate notice from DSCA released on the same day.

This comes after Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman is on a two-week visit to the US, where he is scheduled to meet a variety of different American leaders and personalities.

US Defence Secretary James Mattis on Thursday met with Salman at the Pentagon. Prior to the meeting, the former said that Saudi Arabia was a "part of the solution" in Yemen, in the midst of a civil war in the country, which, according to experts, has killed thousands of civilians in airstrikes, initiated by Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia is the largest buyer of US-made weapons, and Washington D.C. sees Riyadh as an ally in the fight against al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria.

However, there have been controversies over the last few years, in providing Saudi Arabia with weapons.

The US is accused of providing the Saudis with weapons and logistics support in Yemen's three-year civil war against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.


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First published: 23 March 2018, 9:49 IST