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Last Updated: Monday, 30 July 2007, 19:46 GMT 20:46 UK
US military aid for Middle East
Condoleezza Rice [archive photo]
Ms Rice is about to begin a Middle East tour
The US is to spend billions of dollars on military assistance for allies in the Middle East, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has confirmed.

Israel is to receive $30bn (15bn) in aid over the next 10 years, and Egypt $13bn (6.5). Deals are being discussed with Saudi Arabia and more Gulf states.

Ms Rice said the assistance was needed to counter influences from Iran, Syria, and regional militant groups.

She is embarking a tour of the region with Defence Secretary Robert Gates.

They will visit Saudi Arabia and Egypt together and other countries separately.

Opposition

Ms Rice said the US administration was starting discussions with Egypt about the $13bn military assistance deal.

She said it would strengthen Egypt's ability to "address shared strategic goals".

The $30bn aid to Israel over 10 years represents a 25% increase from present levels.

In Saudi Arabia, Ms Rice and Mr Gates are expected to ask Saudi King Abdullah for greater cooperation on Iraq.

"We are helping to strengthen the defensive capabilities of our partners and we plan to initiate discussions with Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states on a proposed package of military technologies that will help support their ability to secure peace and stability in the Gulf region," Ms Rice said in a statement.

But the deals need to be approved by Congress, and appear set to encounter opposition.

Two Democratic congressmen, Anthony Weiner and Jerrold Nadler of New York, said on Sunday they would introduce legislation to block military aid to Saudi Arabia.

"Saudi Arabia should not get an ounce of military support from the US until they unequivocally denounce terrorism and take tangible steps to prevent it," Mr Weiner said at a news conference.

The congressmen pointed out that 15 out of 19 hijackers who carried out the 11 September 2001 attacks were Saudi nationals.

On Sunday US Ambassador at the UN Zalmay Khalilzad accused Saudi Arabia of undermining efforts to stabilise Iraq.


SEE ALSO
US envoy accuses Saudis on Iraq
30 Jul 07 |  Middle East
Israel hails US military aid rise
29 Jul 07 |  Middle East
US 'plans huge Saudi arms deal'
28 Jul 07 |  Americas
Country profile: Saudi Arabia
14 Jul 07 |  Country profiles

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