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US Boosts Military Aid to Israel

16 August 2007

The United States has boosted military aid to Israel. As Robert Berger reports from VOA's Jerusalem bureau, the increase points to growing American concerns over the burgeoning power of Iran.

Israel and the United States signed an agreement for $30 billion in American military aid to Israel over the next 10 years. That is an increase of 25 percent over the current package. U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns spoke at a ceremony in Jerusalem.

"The United States of course understands that Israel lives in an increasingly dangerous region," he said.

Burns said the aid is meant to strengthen Israel against a growing strategic threat from Iran.

"The United States and Israel and many of our friends in the Arab world face a situation where Iran is resurgent, where Iran is seeking a nuclear weapons capability, where it's seeking to expand its conventional power," he added.

Burns accused Iran and Syria of destabilizing the region.

"There is now a nexus of cooperation among Iran and Syria, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other groups who are responsible for the conflicts in this region, and Iran and Syria in particular funding and arming those groups that are terrorist in nature," he said.

The $3 billion annual package will maintain Israel's status as the biggest recipient of U.S. military aid, followed by Egypt which currently gets $1.3 billion a year. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said the increase in aid will guarantee Israel's strategic superiority in the Middle East, despite upgrades to America's Arab allies.

In part, the increased U.S. aid to Israel is meant to offset a major American arms deal with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, worth $20 billion over the next 10 years.

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