'US Saudi arms deal set to go to Congress for approval'

Obama administration to notify Congress of "biggest US arms deal ever"; potential of missile defense systems upgrades, 'Wall Street Journal' says.

311_Obama and Saudi (photo credit: Associated Press)
311_Obama and Saudi
(photo credit: Associated Press)
The Obama administration was set to notify Congress of plans to offer advanced aircraft to Saudi Arabia worth up to $60 billion in the biggest arms deal the country has ever seen, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
The US is in talks with Saudi Arabia about potential upgrades to its missile defense systems and naval forces.
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According to the report, the US claims that the arms deal with a key ally in the Middle East, which will include the sale of advanced fighter jets and military helicopters, is part of a broader policy that aims to create more allies in the region against Iran.
The report claimed that pro-Israeli lawmakers have in the past voiced their concerns over the sale of arms to the Saudis due to fears that it may threaten Israel's military edge in the Middle East and would help support a country that has a poor human rights record.
However US officials reported that Israel is becoming increasingly more comfortable with the Saudi sale because the planes won't have certain long-range weapons systems.
Although the talks between the US and Saudi Arabia have been public knowledge for months, specific details about the types of aircraft and the upgrading of missile defenses have only come to light recently, according to the Wall Street Journal report.
Talks are also underway to expand Saudi Arabia's ballistic missile defenses in an attempt to reduce the threat from Iranian rockets.
The US has sought to build up missile defense across the region, and the Saudi package could be similar to one in the United Arab Emirates, officials said.
The Obama administration was planning to promote the multi-billion dollar deal as an employment opportunity creating over 75,000 jobs.