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ZAGREB (Croatia), January 14 (SeeNews) - Croatia's government said on Monday it cancelled the purchase of 12 multi-purpose US-made F-16 Barak combat aircraft from Israel - a deal blocked by the United States.
Croatia's Defence Council unanimously reached a decision and suggested that the government should bring a decision on nixing the deal with Israel, according to a video file of a cabinet meeting published on the website of the Croatian government.
Also on Monday, defence minister Damir Krsticevic said that Croatia will launch a new procedure for the procurement of fighter jets, local media reported.
The purchase of F-16 is one of the closest options and the United States are expected to give its strategic partner the best offer, “which the Croats cannot refuse”, HINA news agency quoted Krsticevic as saying.
In March, NATO-member Croatia reached an agreement with Israel for the acquisition of upgraded F-16 fighter jets used by Israel's air force to replace its ageing fleet of Russian-made MiG-21 fighter jets. The Israeli offer was picked in an international tender that also attracted bids from Greece, Sweden and the United States. The deal with Israel worth an estimated $500 million (436.1 million euro) needed the US approval for the sale of a US-made product to a third party.
In early December, Washington said it believed that Israel has acted unfairly as the F-16s are US-made and are not supposed to be sold to a third party without the US consent, Israeli TV broadcaster Channel 10 quoted officials as saying. According to those sources, the Trump administration was angry that Israel had added advanced electronic systems to the F-16s in order to sweeten its offer in the Croatian tender.
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