Trump administration advances $10 billion defense sale to UAE, source says

FILE PHOTO: Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Donald Trump and United Arab Emirates (UAE) Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed display their copies of signed agreements as they participate in the signing ceremony of the Abraham Accords, normalizing relations between Israel and some of its Middle East neighbors, in a strategic realignment of Middle Eastern countries against Iran, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., September 15, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner/

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department sent Congress an informal notification of plans to sell $10 billion of defense equipment, including precision-guided munitions, non-precision bombs and missiles to the United Arab Emirates, a U.S. congressional aide said on Friday.

The informal notification about the ordnance, which was sent to lawmakers late on Thursday, came just after President Donald Trump’s administration informed Congress it planned to sell sophisticated armed aerial drones to the UAE, news first reported by Reuters.

The ordnance sale was first reported by CNN.

A State Department spokesman declined comment, saying its policy was not to confirm or comment on proposed defense sales until Congress is formally notified.

Both of the recent informal notifications came on the heels of last week’s notification of a potential sale of F-35 fighter jets to the Middle East country.

Trump brokered a deal in September in which the UAE forged official ties with Israel.

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations and House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committees - whose members have criticized UAE’s role in civilian deaths in Yemen’s civil war - review major weapons sales under an informal process before State sends its formal notification to the legislative branch.

Any deal the United States makes to sell weapons in the Middle East must satisfy decades of agreement with Israel that the U.S.-made equipment must not impair Israel’s “qualitative military edge,” guaranteeing U.S. weapons furnished to Israel are “superior in capability” to those sold to its neighbors.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Cynthia Osterman