US military aid to Israel rockets

JERUSALEM - The US and Israel signed a formal agreement yesterday that Washington will provide the Jewish state with about R221,1billion in defence aid over the next decade, a 25percent increase over previous years.

JERUSALEM - The US and Israel signed a formal agreement yesterday that Washington will provide the Jewish state with about R221,1billion in defence aid over the next decade, a 25percent increase over previous years.

At a signing ceremony in Jerusalem, US Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns pledged that the US would help Israel maintain a military advantage over its regional foes.

"Needless to say, given Israel's predicament, living in a region that is very violent and unstable, its military edge is of interest to our country and we've committed to that," Burns said.

"And I think that principle runs through everything that we've done and the agreement that we've signed today."

Burns said the US considers "this financial assistance to Israel to be an investment in peace, in long-term peace - peace cannot be made without strength".

The Bush administration said last month it would offer weapons packages worth about R147,5billion to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states over 10 years.

Egypt will get almost R96billion in defence assistance.

The military assistance is designed to reassure Sunni Muslim Gulf nations of Washington's commitment to the region. The military help will also serve to strengthen the same nations in the face of the growing influence of Shiite Iran. - Reuters

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