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US official says America ‘fully committed’ to selling F-35s to UAE

Mira Resnick, a US deputy assistant secretary of state for regional security in the bureau of political-military affairs, looks at night-vision goggles on display in the American section of the Dubai Air Show in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, November 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)
Mira Resnick, a US deputy assistant secretary of state for regional security in the bureau of political-military affairs, looks at night-vision goggles on display in the American section of the Dubai Air Show in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, November 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The US remains “fully committed” to a proposed sale of advanced F-35 stealth fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates, despite the Biden administration slowing down the deal, a senior American official overseeing arms exports says.

Mira Resnick, a deputy US assistant secretary of state in the Biden administration, also tells The Associated Press at the Dubai Air Show that Gulf Arab partners are not looking to purchase weapons from Russia as a hedge over American concerns about human rights in the region.

A high-level Russian delegation met today with Abu Dhabi’s powerful crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, at the air show, which prominently featured Moscow’s competitor to the F-35, the Sukhoi Su-75 Checkmate.

“The F-35 is already in this region, whether it’s Israelis flying the F-35, whether it’s American F-35,” Resnick says. “We would like the UAE to be able to operate the F-35 in a way that (they) can be our security partners and to deter threats, including from Iran.”

The proposed sale of 50 F-35s came at the end of President Donald Trump’s administration, rising out of a deal that saw the UAE recognize Israel. The $23 billion sale also included armed drones and other defense equipment sought by the Emirates, a hereditarily ruled federation of seven sheikhdoms also home to Dubai.

After US President Joe Biden came into office, his new administration put the arms sale and others on hold. That in part came over criticism of the UAE and Saudi Arabia over their yearslong war in Yemen, which has sparked the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and rages on today.

Only Israel flies the F-35 in the region, part of its so-called “qualitative edge” granted by America after Israel fought several wars against its Arab neighbors since its founding.

Resnick says she’d heard no concerns from Israel or other allies over the F-35 sale to the Emirates.

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