Dubai: Days after the United Arab Emirates called off a 23 billion dollar weapons deal with the United States, the US Secretary of the state Antony Blinken says Washington was still prepared to sell F-35 fighter jets to the UAE, Al Jazeera reported.
Blinken did not reveal the conditions the US has set on the deal but said Washington wanted to ensure that Israel maintains its "military edge". He said that the US also wanted to ensure that it could do a thorough review of any technologies that are sold or transferred to other partners in the region.
Meanwhile, a UAE official, talking to Reuters, cited technical requirements, sovereign operational restrictions, and cost/benefit analysis led to the re-assessment of the agreement.
UAE had told The Associated Press that though the deal is cancelled, meetings scheduled at Pentagon for this week will proceed as planned. The US remains UAE's preferred provider for advanced defence requirements, and talks on the F-35 might resume in the future, the statement said.
Last year, it was the Trump administration that announced the 23-billion-dollar arms deal with UAE. It was a package of products from General Atomics, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Technologies, including 50 F-35 Lightning II aircraft, up to 18 MQ-9B Unmanned Aerial Systems and a package of air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions.
The deal was inked with Abraham Accords that sought UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan to normalise relations with Israel.
The US Congress had placed its objection to the deal. In a failed motion at the US Senate to block it, those who objected argued that the weapons might worsen regional conflicts, particularly in Yemen.
The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the calling off of the deal, said that the US insisted on conditions to make sure that the F-35s would not be vulnerable to Chinese espionage.
In the meantime, UAE has agreed to buy 80 Rafale warplanes from France for 15 billion dollars.