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Tue 4 Jan 2011 09:00 PM

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Saudi confirms F-15 part of arms deal, talks on track

The arms deal with US is estimated at up to $60bn, two sides in talks over final details

Saudi confirms F-15 part of arms deal, talks on track
ARMS DEAL: Some defence industry officials and analysts have cautioned the deal could be smaller (Getty Images)

Saudi Arabia confirmed on Tuesday it plans to buy more F-15 fighter jets as
part of a massive arms deal which the US State Department said in September
could be worth up to $60bn.

In the first comments by a Saudi official on the deal, assistant defence
minister Khalid bin Sultan said the two sides remained in talks over final
details.

"Talks are continuing according to the agenda and part of it is the
purchase of the modified F-15 model," he told reporters on the sidelines
of an air force graduation ceremony.

In September, US officials said Washington planned to sell weapons worth up
to $60bn to Saudi Arabia including 84 new Boeing F-15 aircraft and 70 Apache
helicopters.

But some defence industry officials and analysts have cautioned the deal
could be smaller. US defence firm Raytheon has put the total value at $25bn.

The prospective arms sale is part of US efforts to shore up the military
capabilities of its Gulf Arab allies with which it shares concerns that Iran
might develop nuclear arms, a charge Iran denies.

The US and Israel have not ruled out military action to stop Iran, which
says it only wants nuclear power to generate electricity.

Diplomats say an agreement with Saudi Arabia could kick off arms sales to
the other five countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) -- Bahrain,
Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and UAE are worried about retaliatory strikes in the event
of war.