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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

$20Bln in U.S. Arms For Mideast

WASHINGTON -- U.S. President George W. Bush's administration is preparing a package of arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states that could be worth some $20 billion over the next 10 years, a senior U.S. defense official said Saturday.

The official largely confirmed reports of the deal in The New York Times ahead of a joint trip to Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity as the deal has not yet been officially announced or completed, said the administration hoped to present the package to the U.S. Congress for approval in the fall.

Washington is striving to reassure Gulf allies, worried by the growing strength of Iran and war in Iraq, that the United States is committed to the region and will stand by them, with arms sales as part of that process, U.S. officials say.

The United States has sought to allay Israeli concerns about the forthcoming package. The senior U.S. defense official said Washington was working on a military assistance deal for Israel expected to top $30 billion during the next decade, a significant increase on current levels.

The United States also is preparing a package of military assistance worth some $13 billion in the next decade for Egypt, another U.S. ally in the Middle East, a senior State Department official said.