Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice formally announced today that
the United States intends to provide billions of dollars in military
assistance to six Gulf states, Egypt and Israel to boost security against Iran.
made the announcement hours before she and Defense Secretary Robert M.
Gates left the United States to travel to the Middle East, where they
will meet Arab and Israeli leaders to discuss the arms packages, worth
an estimated $20 billion, as well as efforts to stabilize Iraq and possibilities for generating new movement in the Arab-Israeli peace process.
Saudi Arabia would receive the most military assistance, including
upgrades to its fighters, new naval vessels, and Joint Direct Attack
Munitions, which turn standard bombs into “smart” precision-guided
bombs. To shore up two other allies in the region, the Bush
administration also plans to finalize new military assistance
agreements to provide $30 billion in U.S. aid to Israel and $13 billion
to Egypt over 10 years, U.S. officials say.
In a conference call
with reporters this morning, Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns
insisted that Iran was only one factor in the new agreements, saying
that it reflected broad U.S. strategic interests in the region. “The
primary rationale,” Burns said, “is to strengthen [U.S. partners] so
they can be strong all issues important to them and to us.”
Phase II of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company Reclamation Project is underway.
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