US still committed to selling F-35 jets, armed drones to UAE: Official

A senior US official stressed Tuesday that the US was committed to selling F-35 fighter jets and armed drones to the UAE.

“They know that we are committed, and we are making sure that they have all of the information they need to move forward,” Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Jessica Lewis said.

Pressed that the deal isn’t happening and “they are starting to notice,” Lewis said: “We are talking to them on a regular basis. They know that we are committed.”

Lewis was speaking alongside Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy, Plans, and Capabilities Mara Karlin at an Armed Services Committee hearing.

The initial deal, agreed to by the Trump administration as part of the UAE normalizing ties with Israel, has faced pushback by progressive Democrats in Congress.

Visibly frustrated, the UAE decided to suspend talks over the $23 billion deal in December.

Threats from Houthis

Lewis and Karlin cited the threats facing the UAE from the Iran-backed Houthis and vowed to continue helping Gulf allies defend themselves.

“The UAE is really facing enhanced threats from the Houthis inside Yemen. And we have also committed to partnering with them as they manage that problem and that challenge,” Lewis said.

For her part, Karlin said that it was important to have “frank conversations about how and in what ways we think they can be more effective and what they’re trying to do.”

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