Oman plans to increase its defense budget by 38 percent in a drive to increase procurement for, and training of its military, reported the Middle East News Line (MENL).
The sultanate has approved a 250-million-US dollar-defense budget for the fiscal year 2001. The increase represents the first step in a five-year plan to modernize Oman's military, said the news service.
Defense officials in Muscat said the budget increase was not the result of heightened tension, in or threats to the Gulf region.
Officials were quoted as saying that the increase will be used for procurement and increased training.
Last year, Oman completed several arms deals with British and French contractors, said MENL.
Meanwhile, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members launched on Saturday in Qatar an air exercise that will last for ten days, said the news service.
Officials said that the aim of the exercise is to improve the skills of pilots from the six- GCC states. Another goal, said MENL, is to test the effectiveness of a new early-warning network.
The exercise is the first since the GCC members agreed last month to upgrade their military capabilities.
GCC air forces are largely composed of US, British and French warplanes, said MENL -- Albawaba.com
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