US envoy to sign $30 bln Israel arms package

US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns is set to sign on Thursday a deal under which Washington will provide Israel with 30 billion dollars in military aid over a decade.

US envoy to sign $30 bln Israel arms package
US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns is set to sign on Thursday a deal under which Washington will provide Israel with 30 billion dollars in military aid over a decade.

In Jerusalem on Wednesday night, he met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who "expressed ... his appreciation and gratitude to President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for their efforts" in bringing about the accord."

A statement from the premier's office said the deal "illustrates the depth of the relationship between the two countries and the commitment of the United States to the defence of Israel and preserving its qualitative superiority."

The package was unveiled by Rice on July 30 as part of a new military pact with US allies in the Middle East in a bid to "counter the negative influences."

They include a 20 billion dollar weapons package for Saudi Arabia, a 13 billion dollar package for Egypt, and reportedly arms deals worth at least 20 billion dollars for other Gulf states.

The aid to Israel reflects an increase in value of more than 25 percent, Olmert has said, describing it as a considerable improvement and very important element for national security.

With current US defence aid to Israel standing at 2.4 billion dollars a year, the new package will hike the value of assistance to the Jewish state by 600 million dollars a year on average, officials said.

Burns, who is on a three-day visit, will also meet Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Defence Minister Ehud Barak and other Israeli officials for "discussions on regional security, including the challenge posed by Iran," the State Department said.

Burns will also meet with Palestinian Authority leaders regarding "the development of a political horizon" and US humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people.

Burns will not travel from Israel to the other Middle East allies to discuss the arms deals, officials said.

A senior US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that "at some point" Burns would visit Egypt and Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf allies.

AFP
Last Mod: 16 Ağustos 2007, 13:04
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