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Gates calms Israel over Saudi arms

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates calmed Israel over
possible American arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Following talks Thursday in Jerusalem, Gates said he had suggested to his interlocutors that the Bush
administration’s Gulf Arab allies wanted advanced weaponry in order to deal
with Iran, not Israel. “I thought they needed to look at the
circumstances in terms of the overall strategic environment and in terms of
the concerns of their neighbors. more with Iran perhaps than with
Israel,” he told reporters. Gates added that if Washington were to stop
supplying arms to its Arab allies, “I am confident the Russians would be
very happy to come sell weapons in the region, and there probably are others
as well.” Israeli media reported that local officials had raised the possibility with Gates of coordinating for a joint Israeli-U.S. strike against
Iranian nuclear facilities. Gates denied the reports. “They did not raise that. I had the impression that at this point, they also are
comfortable with letting the diplomatic process go forward,” he added,
referring to U.N. Security Council sanctions against Iran.

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