The Biden administration on Thursday approved a major $500 million sale to fund spare and repair parts for Saudi Arabia’s military, Al-Monitor reports.
The proposed sale, which the State Department notified to Congress, would fund components for Saudi Arabia’s existing Abrams and M-60 tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, light armored vehicles and Humvees, according to the report.
The proposal would also fund spare and repair parts for rifles and pistols as well as crew-served weapons systems, such as the kingdom’s TOW anti-tank missile launchers, radar sets, recoilless rifles as well as computer units, radar sets and night vision devices, among other equipment.
The proposed sale does not include any new systems and suggests something of a thaw on Capitol Hill towards Saudi Arabia, noted Al-Monitor.
Saudi Arabia is the US’ largest single foreign market for arms sales, but the relationship has come under strain in recent years since the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Khashoggi was killed and dismembered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. Saudi Arabia admitted that Khashoggi was killed after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, after initially denying Turkish claims that he was murdered.
An intelligence report released in February of 2021 by the Biden administration said that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved Khashoggi’s murder.
The Biden administration froze sales of so-called offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia shortly after coming into office in 2021.
However, the Biden administration has recently been working on a deal that would see Saudi Arabia normalizing ties with Israel.
The New York Times reported recently that White House officials have been holding meetings on Capitol Hill with influential Democratic senators, updating them on the details of ongoing diplomatic negotiations with Israeli and Saudi leaders.
The discussions are a part of an ongoing effort to quietly build support for any Senate vote that would be needed to cement a potential pact, according to the report.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman commented on the negotiations with the US and Israel in an interview with Fox News which aired on Wednesday.
"Every day we get closer, it seems it's for the first time real one serious. We get to see how it goes," he said, adding his country could work with Israel, no matter who is in charge and calling a potential deal "the biggest historical deal since the end of the Cold War."