US, Israel reach smart bomb deal

Issue of sale to Saudis not expected to be source of friction in PM's US visit.

Olmert concerned 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Olmert concerned 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Israel and the US have reached an "accommodation" regarding the proposed sale of state-of-the-art weaponry to Saudi Arabia, and the issue is not expected to be a source of friction when Prime Minister Ehud Olmert goes to Washington for talks next week, The Jerusalem Post has learned. "The issue has been dealt with," a source familiar with the matter said Thursday. "The two sides came to an accommodation." A senior government source said that high level talks held in Washington on the matter last week proved "satisfactory." While no one would discuss the nature of the "accommodation" reached, closing the matter is expected to be one of the focuses of discussion when Olmert meets US Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Monday. Defense Ministry Diplomatic-Military Bureau head Amos Gilad and IDF Planning Directorate head Maj.-Gen. Ido Nehushtan met with senior US Defense Department officials on the issue last week. Israel, according to senior government sources, was seeking restrictions on the sale of Joint Direct Attack Munition satellite-guided "smart bombs" to Saudi Arabia, a sale that Jerusalem was concerned would erode the IDF's qualitative edge in the region. Barring the implementation of these restrictions, Israeli officials have expressed interest in acquiring the F-22 stealth bomber - a plane that can avoid radar detection and is the world's most advanced fighter jet. The US has not yet agreed to sell this plane to any foreign country.