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13 May 2017

US may close $100bn defence deal with Saudi Arabia

A senior White House official said the US is close to sealing a series of arms deals with its ally Saudi Arabia worth a total of $100 billion.

This comes a week before US President Donald Trump's scheduled visit to Saudi capital Riyadh.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the deal would help create jobs in the US.

In context

US-Saudi Arabia defense deal

Trump to embark on his first international trip as president

Trump will embark on his first ever foreign visit as president when he departs for Saudi Arabia on May 19. He will also visit Israel, the Vatican, a NATO summit in Brussels and a Group of Seven summit in Sicily.


Arms package's value could eventually cross $300bn

"We are in the final stages of a series of deals," the official said.

The arms package's value may end up surpassing $300 billion over a decade.

Besides being good for the American economy, the deal would help boost Saudi Arabia's defense capabilities.

However, the official clarified that Israel, the US' chief regional ally, "would still maintain an edge."

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US is Saudi Arabia's biggest arms seller

The arms package includes the sale of warships, air missile defenses and more.

The US is Saudi Arabia's largest defense exporter and has sold it F-15 fighter jets, Abrams battle tanks, C-130J transport planes etc.

However, the previous Obama administration was planning to halt some planned arms sales to Saudi Arabia due to high civilian casualties in the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen.

Trump to discuss Iran, ISIS, Syria with Gulf Arab leaders

Security discussions

Trump to discuss Iran, ISIS, Syria with Gulf Arab leaders

At Riyadh, Trump will hold security-related talks with Saudi officials and leaders of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council.

The leaders will likely discuss how to tackle ISIS, the Yemeni and Syrian civil wars and the threat of ballistic missiles from Iran and Tehran's harassment of warships passing through the Strait of Hormuz.

Gulf Arab states believe Trump would be hawkish towards their adversary Iran.

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