Kuwait plans Patriot missiles deal with US -Agency

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KUWAIT, Oct 13 (Reuters) Kuwait plans to buy anti-missile Patriot systems from the United States as part of a military aid package announced by Washington in July, the Gulf Arab state's defence minister said.

''Kuwait has deals (with the United States) but that does not include aircraft,'' Sheikh Jaber al-Hamad al-Sabah told the official news agency KUNA late of yesterday when asked to comment on possible arms deals with the US.

''It will be equipment such as watercraft and anti-missile systems such as Patriot missiles,'' he added, without giving any details.

The United States in July announced military aid packages worth more than 43 billion dollar for main Middle East allies, mainly Israel and Egypt, to bolster them against Iran.

US officials have also said that Washington plans to help Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states upgrade their missile defences and air force and increase their naval capabilities in a package that could reach worth 20 billion rpt billion dollars over ten years.

The United States accuses Iran of seeking to develop a nuclear weapon under the guise of a civilian atomic programme. Iran denies the charges.

The Standoff has provoked concerns that the Gulf region is headed for another war.

Kuwait, which was the launchpad for the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, said last month it would not allow its territory to be used for any attack on Iran.

Gulf Arab states are concerned about the growing influence of non-Arab Iran but do not want to see another war on their doorstep.

REUTERS PD PM1555

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