DUBAI (Reuters) – The United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to Washington said he was confident the sale of F-35 jets to his country would go through after a review by President Joe Biden’s administration of some pending arms sales to US allies.
The UAE had during Donald Trump’s last day in office signed agreements to buy up to 50 F-35 jets, 18 armed drones and other defense equipment in a deal worth $23 billion.
“We did everything by the book and they will discover that once the review is complete and it will proceed,” Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba told a virtual Washington Institute forum on Monday, describing the review as “pro forma”.
Last month, a US State Department official said Biden’s administration was temporarily pausing the implementation of some pending arms sales to U.S. allies to review them.
“Everything is still proceeding while undergoing a review at the same time. I am confident it will end up in the right place,” Otaiba said.
“If you are going to have less of a presence and less involvement in the Middle East you can’t at the same time take tools away from your partners who are expected to do more,” he said.
The UAE was promised a chance to acquire the stealthy F-35 jets made by Lockheed Martin in a side deal when it established ties with Israel last August under a US-brokered agreement.
In December, the Senate rejected attempts to block the transaction, which opponents had said was being rushed through without sufficient assurances that the equipment would not fall into the wrong hands or fuel instability in the Middle East.
Reporting by Ghaida Ghantous. Editing by Gerry Doyle
FILE PHOTO: An Israeli F35 aircraft is seen on the runway during “Blue Flag”, an aerial exercise hosted by Israel with the participation of foreign air force crews, at Ovda military air base, southern Israel November 11, 2019. Picture taken November 11, 2019. REUTERS/Amir Cohen/File Photo