April 18, 2008 / 6:05 AM / 12 years ago

U.S. may block UK-Saudi Eurofighter deal -FT

LONDON, April 18 (Reuters) - A British government contract to supply Saudi Arabia with Eurofighter Typhoon planes could be in jeopardy because of an internal U.S. administration debate over whether to approve the deal, The Financial Times newspaper reported on Friday.

The U.S. state department must approve the transfer of U.S. technology on the fighter before Britain can export 72 Eurofighter Typhoons to Saudi Arabia, the paper said.

British defence company BAE Systems Plc (BAES.L) is the prime contractor for Britain on the deal.

The state department wants to approve the deal but has encountered resistance from the justice department, according to a senior administration official, the FT reported.

The justice department is concerned that approval could hamper an investigation into whether BAE violated U.S. laws by allegedly bribing Saudi officials over a previous arms deal known as Al-Yamamah, the FT said. BAE has denied any wrongdoing. (Reporting by Dan Lalor; Editing by Paul Bolding)

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