Monday, January 14, 2008

Bush delivers arms sale to Saudi Arabia

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - President Bush, on his first visit to this oil-rich kingdom, delivered a major arms sale Monday to a key ally in a region where the U.S. casts neighboring Iran as a menace to stability.

Bush's talks with Saudi King Abdullah, which began over dinner and were continuing with late-night meetings, also were expected to cover peace between Israelis and Palestinians and democracy in the Middle East.

Coinciding with Bush's trip, the Bush administration in Washington notified Congress on Monday that it will offer Saudi Arabia the chance to buy sophisticated Joint Direct Attack Munitions — or "smart bomb" — technology and related equipment, the State Department said. The administration envisions the transfer of 900 of the precision-guided bomb kits, worth $123 million, that would give the kingdom's armed forces highly accurate targeting abilities.

The proposed deal follows notification of five other packages to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, bringing to $11.5 billion the amount of advanced U.S. weaponry, including Patriot missiles, that the administration has announced it will provide to friendly Arab nations, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said. Administration officials say the total amount of eventual sales as part of the Gulf Security Dialogue is estimated at $20 billion, a figure subject to actual purchases. Read more..

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