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Middle east

Baghdad strikes a $5 bln US defence deal

Latest update : 2009-02-15

The Iraqi government has agreed to buy up to five billion dollars worth of weapons, equipment and military training from the US miltary, out of a total defence budget of eight billion US dollars, US army officials said on Saturday.

AFP - The US military announced on Saturday it has struck deals with Iraq that will see Baghdad spend five billion dollars on American-made weapons, equipment and training.
  
The money is being spent on "military equipment, supplies and training from the US" through a foreign military sales programme, it said in a statement released in Baghdad.
  
The announcement was made following a meeting between Iraqi security officials and the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency, which reviews military sales between the two countries.
  
Approximately 20 members of the Iraqi defence ministry as well as officials from the interior ministry took part in the financial review, the statement said.
  
"The Iraqi security forces have already received approximately 1.5 billion dollars in services, vehicles, aircraft parts, small arms, uniforms, and training," the statement quoted US army Colonel Kimberly Enderle as saying.
  
And they have made "commitments for an additional 3.5 billion dollars in purchases," added Enderle, chief of accountability for the Security Assistance Office.
  
US Brigadier General Charles Luckey said the defence deals would "give each nation a wide variety of training opportunities", while an official from the security agency said they signalled "a commitment to a long-term relationship."
  
An Iraqi defence ministry spokesman said that officials from Baghdad planned to travel to the United States as part of the defence sales agreement, but did not provide a date for the trip.
  
Defence Minister Abdel Qader Jassem Mohammed will also visit the United States, said spokesman Mohammed al-Askari.
  
"The military agreements are to supply Iraq with equipment and weapons. We have a desire that our army get American weapons because they are considered the best in the world," he said.
  
Iraq's total annual budget for 2009 has allocated eight billion dollars for the country's security and defence.
  
The budget has already been cut twice -- first from 80 billion to 67 billion, and then down to 62 billion -- because of the plummeting price of oil, Iraq's main source of income.
  

Date created : 2009-02-14

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