US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Sunday that a planned arms deal with Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations was an important move to protect US allies in the Gulf region from Iran. The recently proposed arms deal has come under criticism at a time that US officials have said that Saudi Arabia has not done enough to help stabilize neighboring Iraq. But Rice, speaking on "Fox News Sunday," said the deal was important to protect US allies against Iran's growing power in the region. "Certainly, we want our allies and strategic partners in the region to be well defended," she said. "It makes no sense to leave our longtime strategic allies undefended in a region in which Iranian and other challenges are growing."