US Withdraws Offer to Sell Howitzers to Kuwait
The United States has withdrawn an offer to sell 48 Paladin howitzer guns to Kuwait, two weeks after a parliamentary committee recommended against the deal, the US Embassy in Kuwait said Wednesday.
"The US government's recent decision to withdraw the Paladin Letter of Offer and Acceptance signed by Kuwait in November 1998 is based on a routine US procedural requirement which calls for a review and revalidation of the original offered prices," an embassy spokesperson told AFP.
MP Abdullah al-Naibari, Chairman of the Public Funds Protection Committee, which made the recommendation, said the whole deal, worth 436 million dollars, was over.
"From a technical and procedural aspect, the Americans have withdrawn their offer. My understanding is that the issue is over," he told AFP.
The US Embassy, however, said the US government stands by the Paladin systems. "It is combat-tested, it's reliable and is a cost-effective artillery weapon," said the spokesperson.
Naibari said the offer, which has been marred with controversy and allegations, was withdrawn by the US Foreign Military Sales office.
In its report to parliament on July 9th, the public funds committee said the Paladins did not fulfill Kuwaiti army requirements.
The committee's call was based on findings by the army's technical committees.
The Kuwaiti government last year suspended contract-signing procedures and called in state auditors to examine the terms of the deal in accordance with the wishes of a number of MPs.
The State Audit Bureau criticized the deal, particularly its payment terms, and recommended it be suspended.
The parliamentary committee was asked to reinvestigate the deal after the US manufacturers, United Defense, promised to upgrade the cannons to suit Kuwait's needs.
In a report to the house, the committee said the modified Paladin M109-A6s are not authorized or used by the US Army, which has been developing a new range of howitzers called Crusaders.
The audit bureau, which is linked to parliament, had complained that the Paladin was more expensive than Chinese equivalents and that Beijing had offered better payment terms.
Beside the Paladin, Kuwait had tested the Chinese PLZ-45, the British AS-90 and the South African G6.
Naibari said that under on army procedures, before signing any military deal, at least three offers must be examined – KUWAIT CITY (AFP)
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