The Bush administration is set to announce a $20 billion advanced weaponry deal with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states on Monday in an attempt to win support from the region for further sanctions against Iran.
The weapons deal, which was first announced in July 2007, was postponed over opposition from the US Congress, but the administration is expected to notify Congress on Monday of its intent to conclude the deal as the US president lands in Riyadh as part of his regional tour, the UK's Daily Telegraph reported on Sunday.
According to reports last year, the Bush administration was offering weapons aid to countries in the Gulf, with $20 billion for Saudi Arabia, $13 billion for Egypt and $20 billion to be shared between the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman.
The arms deals, said to be the largest negotiated by the Bush administration, include the sale of sophisticated weaponry including air-to-air missiles and joint direct attack munitions, which turn standard bombs into smart precision-guided bombs, the reports said.
The deals are designed to support US allies in the Middle East as a counterweight to regional power Iran, with the Bush administration stating last year that the common goal of the military aid packages and arms sales was to strengthen pro-Western countries as Iran seeks to extend its power in the region.
Bush arrives in Abu Dhabi on Sunday to deliver the key address of a whirlwind regional tour.
The tour, in which includes stops in Israel, Palestine, Bahrain, the UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, ends on January 16.
Many view the tour as a last ditch effort by Bush to make a positive contribution to the Middle East before he steps down at the end of this year.