Biden administration notifies Congress of $ 650 million arms sale to Saudi Arabia

The sale comes as the Biden administration continues to grapple with US-Saudi relations which have been strained in recent years following the murder of US journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the bloody conflict in Yemen.

The sale will include 280 advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles, which the State Department says are used for air defense capabilities and cannot be used to attack ground targets.

The aim is to replenish Saudi Arabia’s existing inventory “in accordance with the president’s commitment to support Saudi Arabia’s territorial defense,” the spokesperson said.

The new sale comes less than two months after National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan visited Saudi Arabia and met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and discussed the war in Yemen at length. The notification also comes as US special envoy to Yemen Tim Lenderking visits the region for talks “with the government of the Republic of Yemen, representatives of Yemeni civil society, senior officials. regional government and other international partners “.

President Joe Biden announced that the United States would end its support for Saudi Arabia’s offensive operations in Yemen during his presidency’s first major foreign policy speech. Yet efforts by officials in the Biden administration to end the conflict – which was fueled by the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthi rebels – have yet to be successful.

This sale is the second to Saudi Arabia under the Biden administration, the first was for $ 500 million. Congress has 30 days to consider the sale and the sale could be pushed back by Democrats on the Hill.

The State Department said the new weapons will also provide protection for US forces.

“We have seen an increase in cross-border attacks against Saudi Arabia over the past year. Saudi AIM-120C missiles, deployed from Saudi aircraft, have been instrumental in intercepting persistent attacks on Saudi Arabia. ‘UAS that endangered US forces and threatened the more than 70,000 US citizens in the Kingdom, “the spokesperson said. “The AIM-120C is an advanced medium-range air-to-air missile that is not used to engage ground targets.”

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