Biden administration temporarily holds some U.S. weapons exports, official says

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on tackling climate change prior to signing executive actions in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 27, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Joe Biden's administration has temporarily paused some pending arms sales to U.S. allies in order to review them, a U.S. State Department official said on Wednesday.

Reviews of this sort are typical for a new administration, but Donald Trump's administration was doing deals down to the wire, including one for 50 stealthy F-35 jets made by Lockheed Martin as a side deal to the Abraham accords inked only moments before Biden was sworn into office.

The Department is temporarily pausing the implementation of some pending U.S. defence transfers and sales under Foreign Military Sales and Direct Commercial Sales to allow incoming leadership an opportunity to review, the official said.

The F-35 jets are a major component of a $23 billion sale of high-tech armaments from General Atomics, Lockheed and Raytheon Technologies Corp to the United Arab Emirates.

On a post-earnings conference call with investors on Tuesday, Raytheon's management said "with the change in administration, it becomes less likely that we're going to be able to get a license" for a direct commercial sale of offensive weapons worth about $500 million to a Middle East customer. Raytheon did not give the name of the customer.

"The UAE will work closely with the Biden administration on a comprehensive approach to Middle East peace and stability," the UAE ambassador to the United States, Yousef Al Otaiba, said in a statement posted on the Embassy Twitter account.

"The F-35 package is much more then selling military hardware to a partner, Like the US, it allows the UAE to maintain a strong deterrent to aggression. In parallel with new dialogue and security cooperation, it helps to reassure regional partners" Al Otaiba said.

(Reporting by Mike Stone in Washington and Alaa Swilam in Cairo; editing by Grant McCool)

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