The Bush administration is preparing arms sales worth $20 billion to Saudi Arabia as part of a deal that could run into opposition from legislators, The New York Times reported on Saturday.
The package would include advance weaponry such as satellite-guided bombs and upgrades to the country's air force and navy, the newspaper said. The deal, to be formally presented to Congress during the fall, comes as administration officials expressed concerns on Friday that Saudi Arabia was playing an unproductive role in Iraq.
The increase in arms sales is part of a plan to bolster the militaries of US allies in the Gulf in the face of Iran's growing strength in the region, officials told the Times. Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates could also receive increased military aid as part of the deal.
Legislators, some concerned about the sale's impact on the chief US ally in the region, Israel, were briefed on the possible deal this week, the Times said. American officials believed they could placate Israel and Congress' concerns by also promising increased military aid to the Jewish state, while placing restrictions on Saudi Arabia over the range of bombs to be sold and how close to Israel the weapons could be stored.