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Israel deal should remove any hurdle to F-35 sale, UAE official says

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(C) Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Joint Strike Fighter hovers in an aerial display during a media preview of the Singapore Airshow in Singapore

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DUBAI (Reuters) – The United Arab Emirates’ accord to normalise ties with Israel should remove “any hurdle” for the United States to sell the F-35 stealth fighter jet to the Gulf Arab state, a senior Emirati official said on Thursday.

The United States has sold the F-35 to allies including Turkey, South Korea, Japan, and Israel, but sales to the Gulf require a deeper review due to U.S. policy for Israel to maintain a military advantage in the Middle East.

“We have legitimate requests that are there. We ought to get them … the whole idea of a state of belligerency or war with Israel no longer exists,” Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said in an online interview with the Atlantic Council.

However, he said the UAE had not made any new requests to the Americans since the deal with Israel.

The Gulf state, one of Washington’s closest Middle Eastern allies, has long expressed interest in acquiring the fighter jet made by Lockheed Martin Corp (NYSE:LMT), which Israel has used in combat.

An industry insider has told Reuters the United States is eyeing the sale of F-35s to the UAE in a side agreement to the UAE-Israel deal.

However, any F-35 sale could take years to negotiate and deliver, while Israel’s prime minister has said his country would oppose any sale, citing a need to maintain Israeli military superiority in the region.

Washington guarantees that Israel receives more advanced American weapons than Arab states, giving it what is labelled a “Qualitative Military Edge” over its neighbours.

“The UAE expects that its requirements will be accepted and we feel that with the signing of this peace treaty in the coming weeks or months … that any hurdle towards this should no longer be there,” Gargash said.

Israel deal should remove any hurdle to F-35 sale, UAE official says

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