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US sells $29 billion weapons package to ally Saudi Arabia

The United States has reached an agreement to sell a $29.4 billion weapons package to Saudi Arabia.

The Obama administration announced the arms sale Thursday amid tensions in the region over Iran’s threat to close the Strait of
Hormuz, a key oil passageway.

The sale includes 84 F-15 fighter jets from Boeing and
the modernization of 70 Saudi planes. The package is part of a broader,
$60 billion sale to Saudi Arabia that the United States announced last
year
.

The first new planes are expected to be delivered to Saudi Arabia in 2014, according to the Pentagon.

Saudi Arabia is a key American ally in the Middle East, where
the United States is trying to temper Iran’s influence and stop its nuclear ambitions.
Saudi Arabia and Iran are considered rivals, as both are seeking to
become the dominant player in the region.

{mosads}“The agreement reinforces the strong and enduring
relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia, and demonstrates the
U.S. commitment to a strong Saudi defense capability as a key component to
regional security,” White House spokesman Joshua Earnest said in a statement
Thursday.

The White House said that the sale would produce 50,000
jobs and provide a $3.5 billion economic boost to the United States across 44
states.

Tensions between the United States and Iran erupted again this week
when Iran threatened to close down the Strait of Hormuz if further economic sanctions
from the West were issued — a response to a bill passed by the House earlier this month that could allow for further sanctions against its central bank. Iran’s navy chief said it would be “very
easy
” to close down the strait.

The latest dust-up also comes on the heels of Iran capturing a U.S. stealth
drone earlier this month, which President Obama has asked the Iranians to
return.

—Updated at 1:46 p.m.

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