US approves proposed $1bn arms sale to Saudi Arabia
US State Department approves the arms sale, despite concerns raised by rights groups that it might be used in Yemen.
The US State Department has approved a possible arms sale to Saudi Arabia worth more than $1bn.
The package includes a $670m deal for 6,600 TOW anti-missile tanks, a $106m contract for helicopter maintenance and $300m spare parts for military vehicles, the department said in a statement on Thursday.
“This proposed sale will support US foreign policy and national security objectives by improving the security of a friendly country,” the statement read.
The department said it has notified the US Congress about the planned sale.
The announcement came as Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman continued a three-week tour of the US.
On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump hosted bin Salman at the White House, and expressed hope the Gulf kingdom will share some of its wealth with the US “hopefully in the form of jobs, in the form of the purchase of the finest military equipment anywhere in the world”.
But campaigners, including some US legislators, are urging western governments to halt or limit arms sales to Saudi Arabia because of its involvement in a devastating civil war in Yemen.
The US Senate killed on Tuesday a resolution seeking an end to US support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen .
The Saudi military offensive, which began in March 2015, has killed at least 10,000, displaced more than 2 million people and pushed Yemen to the brink of famine.
US Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis, speaking ahead of a Pentagon meeting with bin Salman on Thursday, said Saudi Arabia was “part of the solution” in Yemen.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International, in a statement on Friday, said there “was extensive evidence that irresponsible arms flows to the Saudi Arabia-led coalition have resulted in enourmous harm to Yemeni civilians”.
“But this has not deterred the USA, UK, and other states, including France, Spain and Italy, from continuing transfers of billions of dollars’ worth of such arms,” it added.