US announces sales of advanced weaponry to Saudis as Bush visits Riyadh

The Bush administration on Monday officially notified Congress of its intent to sell sophisticated precision-guided bomb delivery systems to Saudi Arabia as part of a multibillion-dollar arms package to bolster the defense of US allies in the Gulf. Timed to coincide with President George W. Bush's trip to Saudi Arabia, the notification opens a 30-day window during which lawmakers can object to the sale, which envisions the transfer of 900 Joint Direct Attack Munitions, or JDAMs, to the Saudis, the State Department said. The proposed deal, worth $123 million, follows notification on five other packages to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, and brings to $11.5 billion the amount of advanced US weaponry, including Patriot missiles, provided to friendly Arab nations under the Gulf Security Dialogue, spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters. Administration officials say the total amount of sales as part of the dialogue is estimated at $20 billion, but they also have cautioned that the figure is subject to what equipment the receiving countries actually purchase.