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US Objections Stop Croatia Buying F-16s from Israel

US Objections Stop Croatia Buying F-16s from Israel

Saturday, 12 January, 2019 - 07:45
Israel's delegation led by Ehud Adam, center, Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Defense, is welcomed by Mirko Sundov, Chief of Staff of Croatia's armed forces upon their arrival to the Croatian Ministry of Defense in Zagreb, Croatia, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)
Tel Aviv - Asharq Al-Awsat
The director-general of the Israeli Defense Ministry, Udi Adam, ended his visit to Zagreb on Friday after informing the Croatian military institution that Tel Aviv will not be able to deliver a dozen used US-made F-16 fighter jets following objections by Washington.

Croatia's Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said earlier this week that Zagreb would not accept any other deal but the original Israeli offer which it accepted last March.

"The agreement on buying the planes has not been signed, so there is no financial damage to our budget," Plenkovic told a cabinet session on Thursday.

He added that Croatia was determined to continue with its plans of modernizing its air force. It is unclear at the moment whether Zagreb would now call another tender or turn to other bidders that competed in a previous tender.

The deal with Israel was supposed to be worth $500 million.

But Washington objected to the sale of the US-made jets because it wants the removal of electronic system upgrades that Israel added.

After months of delay, Zagreb had asked Israel for official information by Friday on whether it can deliver the planes.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met earlier this month but didn't agree on a way to end the impasse.

Croatian Defense Minister Damir Krsticevic said after meeting with Adam in Zagreb on Thursday that "despite accepted obligations," Israel failed to obtain the needed consent and his ministry "will propose to the government to make appropriate decisions."

He said Croatia will not suffer financial consequences because of the failed deal.

Adam said at a joint media conference with the Croatian minister that "sadly, the conditions were not right (for finalizing the deal) because of the circumstances that were beyond our control."

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