• US to discuss $2.1-billion agreement with Oman

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    MUSCAT: US Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday discussed a $2.1-billion deal with Omani leaders to supply an American-made air-defense system to the Arab state facing Iran in the Gulf.

    Kerry told Oman’s Defense Minister Sayyid Badr al-Busaidi that the United States was “excited” about the deal and “very grateful for your confidence in Raytheon,” manufacturers of the defense system.

    The details of the contract are still being worked through, and a letter of intent is to be signed “soon, but they are still finalizing technical details,” a State Department spokeswoman said, asking not to be named.

    US officials said earlier that Oman had decided in January to buy a ground-based air defense system produced by US giant Ray theon, which is based in Kerry’s home state of Massachusetts.

    The new top US diplomat had strongly backed the proposed deal before he took office in February.

    “Part of the goal of this is to push US commercial interests, to demonstrate to Oman that these are important to this administration,” another US official had said before Kerry arrived in Oman on Tuesday.

    “We have initiated the talks” about the system, Busaidi said as he met Kerry in the defense ministry in Muscat on Wednesday for talks also attended by Raytheon Senior Director Ken Gordon.

    The Omanis believed it was “the best and most effective system that is out there,” Busaidi said.

    AFP

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