Iraq signs deal to buy South Korean fighter jets

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BAGHDAD (AP) - Iraqi government has signed a $ 1.1 billion deal with a South Korean company to buy 24 multi-role light fighters to boost its defense capabilities.

The agreement to buy the T-50IQ aircraft was inked on Thursday during a ceremony held in Baghdad, the government said in a statement.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki hailed the signing "as a starting point" to improve the performance of the Iraqi security forces in order to defend the country and confront terrorist groups.

Korea Aerospace Industries said on its official website that it would support services for the aircraft for 20 years, which could push the total value of the deal to more than $ 2 billion.

Iraq is facing a rise in deadly insurgent attacks amid political and sectarian tension.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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