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US to announce $110B Saudi arms sale as Trump visits

US to announce $110B Saudi arms sale as Trump visits

May 19th, 2017 by Associated Press in Business

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's administration plans to announce $110 billion in advanced military equipment sales and training to Saudi Arabia this weekend as the president visits the country, officials said Friday.

U.S. officials familiar with the package said it would include Abrams tanks, combat ships, missile defense systems, radar, and communications and cyber security technology. The announcement is expected today in Riyadh, the first leg of Trump's maiden overseas trip as president. 

Much of the package builds on commitments made before Trump took office, although some elements are new. 

Some of the weapons are designed to help the Saudis in their current conflict in neighboring Yemen where they are leading a coalition battling Iran-backed rebels, the officials said.

But officials said the equipment and training is mainly designed to address Saudi Arabia's broader and longer-term threats. Saudi Arabia and other Arab neighbors along the Persian Gulf believe Iran to be their biggest threat.

The package includes $109 billion in equipment such as the tanks, ships, Patriot missile batteries and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense — or THAAD system — for taking out incoming missiles. Some $750 million will be in the form of training programs for the Saudi Air Force, which has been criticized for inflicting high numbers of civilian casualties in Yemen. 

Training will include education on targeting, the laws of war and reducing civilian casualties, officials said.