U.S. Nearing Closure on Saudi Arms Deal

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The biggest U.S. arms sale in history is nearing completion, the Saudi Gazette reported on Tuesday. 

Saudi Assistant Defense Minister Prince Khaled bin Sultan confirmed that the $60 billion arms sale is continuing "as part of normal strategic procedure," the Gazette quoted him as having said.

"Prince Khaled bin Sultan…confirmed Tuesday that talks on the final details of a massive arms deal with the United States are ongoing," the report said.

Included in the sale are 84 F-15 fighter jets, 70 Apache attack helicopters, 72 tactical Black Hawk helicopters, 36 light helicopters and parts to upgrade 70 used F-15s.

Some analysts believe the sale, to be carried out over the next 10 to 20 years, is meant in part as a deterrent against Iran.

Besides the aircraft, the Saudis are negotiating a $30 billion upgrade to their navy, ostensibly to protect oil production facilities in the nation's eastern province, combat piracy in the Red Sea and provide a deterrent to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's naval forces.

The Pentagon, which announced the sale last October, said the deal would be finalized despite reservations from some U.S. congressman of its impact on Israeli security.

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AFP contributed to this report.

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