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Saudi, US in talks on 'final details' of arms deal

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RIYADH (AFP): Saudi Arabia and the United States are holding negotiations on the “final details” of a massive arms deal, a daily said Wednesday, citing the kingdom's assistant defence minister.

“Prince Khaled bin Sultan... confirmed yesterday that talks on the final details of a massive arms deal with the United States are ongoing,” reported the Saudi Gazette.

The US said in November 2010 that the $60 billion deal would take effect despite initial worries from US lawmakers over its impact on Israeli security.

Prince Khaled confirmed this.

The “talks are... continuing according to the agenda and as part of normal strategic procedure as there is nothing further to elaborate on,” he was quoted as saying in the Saudi Gazette.

The Pentagon unveiled plans on October 20 for the sale to Saudi Arabia of 84 F-15 fighter jets, 70 Apache attack helicopters, 72 tactical Black Hawk helicopters and 36 light helicopters, as well as upgrades for 70 used F-15s.

The delivery of the weapons to the oil-rich kingdom, thought to be the largest ever single US arms sale, would be spread across 15 to 20 years.

Saudi Arabia is also working on completing “the Eurofighter Typhoon jets deal” on which talks have been suspended following the death of a Saudi pilot on board the warplane in a crash in Spain in August.

“The defect in the plane has been repaired and it is now functioning better than before,” said Prince Khaled.

Saudi Arabia, which took delivery in 2009 of the first of the 72 Eurofighter Typhoons it plans to buy, has its pilots trained to fly the aircraft by the Spanish Air Force under a bilateral agreement with Madrid.

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