US ready to move forward with sale of F-35s, drones to UAE: Antony Blinken

US ready to move forward with sale of F-35s, drones to UAE: Antony Blinken

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KUALA LUMPUR: United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that the US is prepared to move forward with the sale of F-35 fighter jets and drones to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The statement comes after reports that the UAE intended to suspend discussion of the deal.

An UAE official told Reuters on Tuesday that it has notified the United States that it will suspend discussions on the purchase of F-35 fighter jets as part of a $23 billion transaction that includes drones and other advanced ammunition.

The official cited “technical requirements, sovereign operating restrictions, and cost/benefit analysis” as the reasons that prompted the UAE government to reassess the transaction.

People familiar with the matter told Reuters in January that the UAE had signed an agreement to purchase 50 F-35 jets and up to 18 armed drones.

Speaking at a news conference in Kuala Lumpur, Blinken said Washington had to conduct some reviews.

“We’ve wanted to make sure, for example, that our commitment to Israel’s qualitative military edge is assured, so we wanted to make sure that we could do a thorough review of any technologies that are sold or transferred to other partners in the region, including the UAE,” Blinken said.

“But I think we continue to be prepared to move forward if the UAE continues to want to pursue both of these,” he said.¬†

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