Thursday 22 October 2020 - 2:54:57 am

‘Positive conversations’ underway on selling F-35 to UAE: US official

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By Ibrahim Shukralla

ABU DHABI, 26th August, 2020 (WAM) – A top American official said today that there were "incredibly positive conversations going on" between the US, Israel and UAE with regard to selling F-35 warplanes to the latter.

"We know that there are more agreements to formalise between the UAE and Israel, but you have taken the first step and I have no doubt that the other steps will come into place, and that’s one of the reasons why Secretary Pompeo is here," Morgan Ortagus, Spokesperson for the US Department of State, told Emirates News Agency, WAM, in an exclusive interview in Abu Dhabi today.

"With respect to the F-35 or any military hardware or infrastructure, I keep reminding people that it is important to know that the UAE and US’ military and security relationship is robust and has been there for decades. Since the Gulf War, the United States had sold military aircraft and hardware, F-16s, and others to the UAE," she added.

"This is not a new relationship; this is a sophisticated relationship that we have had for decades," she continued.

Ortagus is in Abu Dhabi accompanying the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, who landed in the UAE this afternoon on the fourth leg of his regional tour, after having visited Israel, Sudan and Bahrain in the past few days. His next destination is Oman.

The American official emphasised that Pompeo in his meetings, this week, with Israeli Defence Minister, Benny Gantz, and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gabi Ashkenazi, had been "pretty firm in his commitment to both the UAE and Israel."

She added, "We certainly are letting all our allies in the region know that our commitment militarily to strengthen the UAE is incredibly important."

Ortagus said that the UAE-Israel peace accord, which was announced on 13th August, showed UAE’s "strength and power on the international stage."

"Little Israeli children will grow up seeing Emirati children in their age on vacation and being able to visit Al Aqsa Mosque, and the same for the UAE [seeing Israeli children in the UAE]. It seems historic for us because of the fact that our children will grow up in a society that is different to the one we grew up in, where there were prejudices what is normal is not for people to hate each other, but to be at peace between Muslims, Christians and Jews," she added.

WAM/MOHD AAMIR