Barak Trying to Solve Arms Sale Dispute without Hurting US Ties
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak said Monday he doesn't want to hurt ties with the United States over Israel's planned sale of a spy plane to China - a comment that came amid growing indications the deal could be called off, reported The Associated Press.
Israel is looking to solve the problem without creating "an obstacle in our relations with the United States," Barak said. He did not mention damage to relations with China if the deal is canceled. China is a major purchaser of Israeli arms.
Israel's planned sale of the plane, called PHALCON, has become a stumbling block between Israel and the United States in recent months.
The United States insists that Israel scrap the sale, pointing to tensions between China and Taiwan and expressing concern that China could use the plane to track American planes if hostilities erupt, said the agency.
In the US Congress, representatives from both parties have threatened to cut American aid to Israel if the deal goes through. Israel receives $1.9 billion in annual defense aid from the United States.
But the Israelis say the US government is trying to undermine Israeli competition for arms markets in Asia. They warn that if they have to cancel a signed contract with China, it would harm their future credibility in arms deals.
The PHALCON deal includes a Chinese option to buy up to four more of the spy planes, which are built on a Russian chassis with Israeli technology, according to the AP - Albawaba.com
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)