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Trump Administration To Approve $1 Billion Arms Sale To Saudi Arabia

Trump Administration To Approve $1 Billion Arms Sale To Saudi Arabia

Jared Kushner, tasked by his boss and father-in-law, President Donald Trump, with mediating Middle East peace early in the administration, has so far staked a bulk of those efforts on the ascendant Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

Coming nearly three years to the day that Saudi Arabia, supported by the US, began a campaign of airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen, the State Department ironically and sarcastically wrote: "This proposed sale will support USA foreign policy and national security objectives by improving the security of a friendly country which has been, and continues to be, an important force for political stability and economic growth in the Middle East... and will not alter the basic military balance in the region".

The UK-based rights group said the arms sales have been an "enormous harm to Yemeni civilians" over the course of the war.

"But this has not deterred the U.S., the United Kingdom and other states, including France, Spain and Italy, from continuing transfers of billions of dollars' worth of such arms", said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty's Middle East research director.

"As well as devastating civilian lives, this makes a mockery of the global Arms Trade Treaty".

The proposed package included up to 6,700 missiles made by Raytheon Missile Systems as well as spare parts for American-made tanks and helicopters that Saudi Arabia already owns.

The Saudi military offensive, which began in March 2015, has killed at least 10,000, displaced more than 2 million people and pushed Yemen to the brink of starvation.

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The Saudi crown prince is in Washington for official talks at the White House on his first visit to the U.S., which is mainly aimed at pushing for an ambitious nuclear deal.

When Kushner, Trump's senior aide, made an unannounced trip to Riyadh a year ago, the Intercept - citing three sources - reported Wednesday, MBS told confidants after the meeting that Kushner had discussed Saudi leaders who are disloyal to the crown prince.

Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia and some of its Arab allies have been carrying out deadly airstrikes against the Houthi Ansarullah movement in an attempt to restore power to fugitive former President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh.

A third release added that a possible sale worth $106.8 million was approved for a Maintenance Support Services contract (MSS).

Salman, 32, is also expected to meet with leaders of Congress and Cabinet officials such as Defense Secretary James Mattis and Mike Pompeo, CIA director and Trump's new pick to replace Rex Tillerson as secretary of state.

The "pocket" comment was reported on Thursday by The Intercept, which claimed that in an unannounced trip to Saudi Arabia in October, Kushner disclosed the names of Saudi royal family members believed to be disloyal to Mohammed.

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