John Kerry Bids to Close $2.1Billion Middle East Defense Deal

Mike O'Brien

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry touched down in Oman in the Middle East on Tuesday and immediately set about trying to secure a $2.1 billion defense deal.

He met with Oman’s ruler, Sultan Qaboos, at his palace complex and went over the details of the deal involving the American-made air defense system that looks to be bound for the Gulf nation.

The system was produced by U.S. contractor Raytheon, which is based in Mr. Kerry’s home state of Massachusetts.

He had strongly backed the bid by the company before taking office as the new top US diplomat on February 1.

A State Department official said: "In January the Omanis made a decision to buy a ground-based air defense system produced by Raytheon, something that the secretary advocated for when he was in the Senate.

"Part of the goal of this is to push US commercial interests, to demonstrate to Oman that these are important to this administration."

The final details of the Raytheon deal have yet to be worked out, but officials said the contract may be signed on Wednesday, reports.

The official added: "Oman has also recently brought a second tranche of F-16s, so this is a way of continuing our relationship in the defense arena and will have pluses in terms of interoperability."

Aside from pushing lucrative defense contracts, Mr. Kerry is also in the Middle East to discuss the Syria crisis.

The U.S. is working with Russia in a bid to bring Syrian President Bashar Al Assad and rebel leaders to the negotiating table at a conference to map out a path for political transition.

Share your thoughts. Leave a comment below.