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The Wall Street Journal: United Arab Emirates threatens to pull out of $23 billion deal to buy F-35 aircraft and drones from U.S.

WASHINGTON—The United Arab Emirates is threatening to pull out of a multibillion-dollar deal to buy American-made F-35 aircraft, Reaper drones and other advanced munitions, U.S. officials said, in what would be a significant shake-up between two longtime allies increasingly at odds over China’s role in the Gulf.

The Emirati government told U.S. officials that it intended to kill the deal because Abu Dhabi thought security requirements the U.S. had laid out to safeguard the high-tech weaponry from Chinese espionage were too onerous, officials said.

It was unclear whether the $23 billion arms deal, inked in the final days of the Trump administration, is dead, or whether the Emirati threat is a bargaining move on the eve of a planned visit Wednesday by a high-level U.A.E. military delegation to the Pentagon for two days of talks.

“The U.A.E. has informed the U.S. that it will suspend discussions to acquire the F-35,” a U.A.E. official said in a statement. “Technical requirements, sovereign operational restrictions, and the cost/benefit analysis led to the reassessment.”

An expanded version of this story appears on

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