Washington- U.S. State Department deputy spokesperson Mark Toner has lauded Saudi-U.S. relations on military sales.
“On December 7th the Administration did formally notify Congress on the sale of helicopters to Saudi Arabia at a value of 3.5 billion dollars,” Toner said on Friday in response to a question on the latest weapons deal between Washington and Riyadh.
“We have a strong military sales relationship with Saudi Arabia,” he told a press briefing in Washington.
Asked by a reporter about the criticism of a human rights organization that the deal is aimed at backing Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, Toner denied it, saying “these helicopters I don’t think are anticipated to be delivered for some two to three years.”
He added that the helicopters operate in case of a natural disaster and for assistance.
Toner said he believed that Saudi Arabia is committed to some of the restrictions that the U.S. puts in weapons deals struck with other countries.
On the Yemeni crisis, the spokesperson said: “Saudi Arabia did not choose this fight. This is a result of spillover from the war in Yemen.”
“They have taken steps to defend Saudi territory,” he added.
Secretary of State John Kerry “has been very engaged in this,” Toner said when asked about efforts to resolve the crisis.
He hope that the negotiations based on the U.N. roadmap would resume, saying Saudi Arabia is providing great cooperation to achieve peace in Yemen.