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US planning $20B arms package for Saudi Arabia


Washington : The Bush administration plans to ask Congress to approve arms sales to Saudi Arabia and its neighbours that may eventually total $20 billion, The New York Times reported Saturday.

The proposed arms deal includes advanced satellite-guided bombs, upgrades to Saudi fighters and new naval vessels, the newspaper said in a front page story.

The dispatch also said the proposal has caused some anxiety for Israel and some of its supporters in Congress. However, senior administration officials said they believed those concerns had been resolved— in some measure through a promise of $30.4 billion in military aid to Israel during the next 10 years.

At the same time, administration officials were cited as saying that they were concerned that the size of the Saudi deal—and the inclusion of advanced weaponry in the transaction—could combine with general concern about Saudi Arabia’s role in Iraq to generate opposition in Congress to the deal.

The proposal will be formally presented to Congress this fall, the Times said.