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Ehud Barak assured Congress members that Israel does not oppose a pending U.S. arms sale to Saudi Arabia. “We are highly confident that the qualitative military edge will remain and we will not oppose this deal,” is how the Israeli defense minister described his message in meetings Wednesday and Thursday with senators and members of the U.S. House of Representatives, including Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), the Jewish chairwoman of the foreign operations appropriations subcommittee. State Department officials say they are on the verge of presenting the $20 billion deal to Congress for affirmation. The sale to the Saudis and their neighbors is part of a package that includes an increase in annual defense assistance to Israel from $2.4 billion to $3 billion.

The Bush administration says the assistance will spur support for Israeli-Palestinian peace and help create a united front against Iran.

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