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Israeli PM announces 30 billion US dollar US defence aid
07.29.07, 6:47 AM ET



JERUSALEM (Thomson Financial) - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday that the US has agreed a 25 percent increase in its military and defence aid to Israel, to 30 billion US dollars in the next 10 years.

'In my last meeting with the president of the United States, we agreed that the aid would stand at 30 billion dollars over the next 10 years, meaning over three billion dollars a year, starting next year,' he said at the start of his weekly cabinet meeting.

'This is an increase of over 25 percent in the military and defence aid of the United States to Israel,' he added.

Olmert described the new package as a considerable improvement and a very important element for the security of Israel. Current US defence aid to Israel stands at 2.4 billion dollars a year.

US President George W. Bush, whom Olmert last met in Washington on June 19, gave him assurances 'to keep the qualitative edge between us (Israel) and the other states (in the region),' the Israeli premier said.

'Other than the increase in aid, we received an explicit and detailed commitment to guarantee Israel's qualitative advantage over other Arab states.

'We understand the United States' desire to help moderate states which stand at a united front with the United States and Israel in the struggle against Iran,' he added.

A senior US defence official said on Saturday that Washington is readying a major arms package for Saudi Arabia with an eye to countering the changing threat from Tehran, Israel's arch foe.

The Pentagon provided no details on the arms package, which will reportedly total 20 billion dollars over the next decade.

But it will include new weapons for the United Arab Emirates, and military and economic support to Egypt, officials said.

The deal is intended to strengthen US allies in the Middle East and counter the perceived threat from Iran, whose nuclear activities have provoked major concern in Israel and the US.

Israel has reacted cautiously to the reported Saudi package.

'We have no doubt that the United States would not do anything that could endanger the security of Israel,' Olmert's spokeswoman Miri Eisin told Agence France-Presse Sunday.

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