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White House moves ahead with sale of F-35 jets to UAE: sources

By Mike Stone and Patricia Zengerle, Reuters | Updated - Oct. 29, 2020 at 10:52 a.m. | Posted - Oct. 29, 2020 at 10:20 a.m.


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WASHINGTON (Reuters) — The White House notified Congress it intends to sell 50 5-35 fighter jets made by Lockheed Martin to the United Arab Emirates, setting up a potential showdown with the U.S. legislature, which could vote to block the sales, sources said on Thursday.

The United States and the UAE aim to have a letter of agreement for the F-35 jets in time for UAE National Day celebrated on Dec. 2, Reuters reported in September.

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations and House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committees, whose members have criticized the UAE's role in civilian deaths in Yemen, have the right to review, and block, weapons sales under an informal review process.

Israel initially balked at the prospective sale but last year dropped its opposition after what it described as U.S. guarantees that Israeli military superiority would be preserved.

"We all face a common threat," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in an apparent allusion to Iran, told reporters on Thursday when asked about the Reuters report.

"But with that said, it was important that the (Israeli) defense establishment received this clear American undertaking to preserve our qualitative military edge," added Netanyahu, who earlier on Thursday hosted visiting Pentagon chief Mark Esper.

(Reporting by Mike Stone and Patricia Zengerle in Washington, D.C. and Dan Williams in Jerusalem; Editing by Chris Reese, David Gregorio and Jonathan Oatis)

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