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Bush Announces $20 Billion Arms Deal for Saudis

President Bush, on his first visit to Saudi Arabia on Monday, delivered a major arms deal aimed at countering the perceived threat from Iran.

Bush also met with Saudi King Abdullah in talks expected to cover the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

The arms sale, which Congress has 30 days to review, would amount to $20 billion worth of weapons, including precision-guided bombs. It is "a pretty big package, lots of pieces," national security adviser Stephen Hadley told reporters on Air Force One.

The sale is an important part of the U.S. strategy to bolster the defenses of oil-producing Gulf nations, such as Saudi Arabia, against threats from Iran. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states with majority Sunni Muslim populations, harbor deep suspicions about Shiite Iran.

Earlier, in the United Arab Emirates, Bush told a gathering of entrepreneurs and others that he wanted them to understand that America respects their religion.

"We want to work together for the sake of freedom and peace," he said.

The session was held in a conference room high atop one of Dubai's signature buildings, a luxury hotel shaped like a tall ship sail. The Burj Al Arab occupies its own manmade island.

Dubai has installed one of the world's most comprehensive homeland security and antiterrorism systems. Many antiterror analysts believe the threat of attack by Islamic extremists in Dubai is growing — fueled by the city's image as a bastion of Western-style capitalism and nightlife, its new status as home to the world's tallest building and the frequent port calls by U.S. Navy ships.

Dubai also is caught in the middle of the West's efforts to crack down on business in and out of Iran to protest its nuclear ambitions. Dubai, with a powerful Iranian business community, is eager to maintain its lucrative financial ties with Tehran, but wary of angering the United States and the United Nations.

From NPR reports and The Associated Press

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