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Sunday, November 9, 1997 Published at 15:20 GMT


Gulf states on defence spending spree

Vickers' Challenger-2 tanks impressed the Sultan of Oman

The Gulf state of Oman has signed a contract to buy £100m worth of tanks from the British company Vickers.

For that sum, Oman will get 20 Challenger-2 battle tanks.

The Omani defence minister, Badr Ibn Saud Al-Bussaidi, said his country had been satisfied by the performance of Challenger tanks which it bought four years ago from Britain.

Britain is the main supplier to the Omani army and the air force.

The Vickers chairman, Sir Colin Chandler, said: "This contract further strengthens Vickers Defence Systems' order book and its position as one of the world's leading land defence systems businesses.

"It also enhances our prospects in other significant export markets."

The tanks are made by Vickers Defence Systems in factories at Leeds and Newcastle upon Tyne in Britain.

The British Secretary of State for Defence, George Robertson, welcomed the order.

He said: "The contract represents another great success for the UK defence industry and is a further demonstration of the continuing defence co-operation and friendship between Oman and the UK."

In September, Mr Robertson signed a $40m contract to upgrade Oman's Jaguar aircraft fleet.

Kuwait buys Chinese guns

In Kuwait, the Defence Minister, Sheikh Salem Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, said a $200m agreement to buy Chinese howitzer guns would be reached.

He said: "The contract will be signed after the financial matters are discussed with the Chinese side."

Both Britain and the United States have pressed Kuwait not to buy guns from China, offering alternative artillery.

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