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US prepares to lift ban on sale of offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia

US prepares to lift ban on sale of offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia
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The United States is expected to lift a ban on the sale of offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia, potentially in the coming weeks, the Financial Times reported on Sunday.

Washington has already signalled to Saudi Arabia that it was prepared to lift the ban, the newspaper reported, citing a person familiar with the matter.

Soon after taking office in 2021, US President Joe Biden adopted a tougher stance on Saudi Arabia’s campaign against the Iran-aligned Houthis in Yemen, which has inflicted heavy civilian casualties, and over Riyadh’s human rights record, in particular the 2018 killing of Washington Post journalist and political opponent Jamal Khashoggi.

Saudi Arabia, the biggest US arms customer, has chafed under those restrictions, which froze the kind of weapons sales that previous US administrations had provided for decades.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday said the US and Saudi Arabia were very close to concluding a set of agreements on nuclear energy, security and defence cooperation, the bilateral component of a wider normalisation deal with Riyadh and Israel.

However, lifting the ban on offensive weapons sales were not directly linked to these talks, FT said.

The White House and Saudi Arabia’s government communication office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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