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Trump 'to announce massive arms deal during Saudi visit'

Riyadh has been criticised for inflicting high numbers of civilian casualties in Yemen Getty]

Date of publication: 20 May, 2017

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The US government plans to announce $110 billion in advanced military equipment sales and training to Saudi Arabia this weekend, as President Donald Trump visits the kingdom.

The US government plans to announce $110 billion in advanced military equipment sales and training to Saudi Arabia this weekend, as President Donald Trump visits the country, US officials said on Friday.

The package includes Abrams tanks, combat ships, missile defence systems, radar, and communications and cyber security technology, US officials told AP.

The announcement is expected in Riyadh on Saturday, during the first leg of Trump's maiden overseas trip as president of the US.

Much of the package builds on commitments made before Trump took office, although some elements are new, according to the officials, who were not authorised to speak publicly and demanded anonymity.

Some of the weapons are designed to help the Saudis in their current conflict in neighbouring Yemen where they are leading a coalition battling the Houthi rebels, the officials said.

But the equipment and training is mainly designed to address Saudi Arabia's broader and longer-term threats, they suggested.

Saudi Arabia and other Arab neighbours along the Persian Gulf believe Iran to be their biggest threat.

The package includes $109 billion in equipment such as the tanks, ships, Patriot missile batteries and Terminal High Altitude Area Defence - or THAAD system - for taking out incoming missiles.

Some $750 million will be in the form of training programs for the Saudi Air Force, which has been criticised for inflicting high numbers of civilian casualties in Yemen.

Ahead of the weekend announcement, the administration separately informed Congress on Friday that it will sell some $500 million in precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi Ministry of Commerce and Investment has said the volume of trade exchange between the Kingdom and the US in 2016 reached $37.8 billion.

Of this, the Saudi exports to the US reached $17.5 billion while US exports reached $20.2 billion.

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