The Bush administration will be asking Congress to approve a $20 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia and neighboring Gulf states despite the concerns of some U.S. officials that the Saudis have been hampering U.S. efforts in Iraq, the New York Times reported Saturday.
The size of the proposed package, which would include advanced weaponry, has made Israel and its supporters in Congress “nervous,” the Times reported. The administration is expecting Israeli supporters and Saudi critics in Congress to oppose the deal when it is formally presented to Congress this fall.
To resolve these concerns, the administration has promised Israel $30.4 billion in military aid over the next decade, and is asking the Saudis to accept restrictions on the “range, size and location of the satellite-guided bombs” and to agree not to store the weapons near Israeli territory, a U.S. official told the Times.
The administration has not asked Saudi Arabia to pledge greater support to the U.S. effort in Iraq as a condition of the deal, the official told the Times.
The deal is part of a strategy to bolster the militaries of Persian Gulf countries to contain Iran’s growing power in the region, the Times reported.
"It's a very difficult balancing act. Historically Israel has been very nervous about arms sales to Saudi Arabia. We need to assure Israel that it doesn't need to be threatened by this sale," a senior administration official told FoxNews.