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White House says Saudi-Boeing 787 deal to support US jobs

REUTERS/Randall Hill
A Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner taxis past the final assembly building at Boeing South Carolina, United States, on March 31, 2017

The White House has welcomed the “landmark” deal between Saudi Arabia and the Boeing Co, saying it will support US jobs and marked a milestone in cooperation between Saudi Arabia and American industry.

Two Saudi airlines agreed to buy 78 Boeing 787 Dreamliners and took options to buy another 43.

The White House said it was “pleased that Boeing was able to finally conclude these deals with Saudi Arabia after years of discussions, and intensive negotiations over recent months”.

Commerce secretary Gina Raimondo said the deal “is a clear win for American manufacturers and workers, supporting more than 140,000 jobs at over 300 Boeing suppliers across 38 states” and is “a fitting tribute to an economic partnership between our two countries now in its eighth decade”.

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun said in an interview the planemaker got “support from the Biden administration and from key members of Congress every step of the way… I give them lots of credit for supporting this and then most importantly for again reemphasising a relationship this been around a long time and serves both countries incredibly well”.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican representing South Carolina where the 787 is assembled, said lawmakers from the state worked closely with Boeing, Saudi Arabia and the administration “to overcome the obstacles to make this deal possible. The Biden administration has done a terrific job in moving the ball forward and was instrumental in landing this purchase”.

Graham said “this multi-billion dollar direct investment by Saudi Arabia in the United States will pay dividends regarding the valuable bilateral relationship between our two countries over time”.

White House national security Adviser Jake Sullivan noted Boeing closed a major order last month with Air India. “Boeing has closed two of its largest deals in history – in a matter of weeks. Great for US manufacturing,” he wrote on Twitter.

A US official said the Saudi deal was a “white whale” for Boeing, something the planemaker pursued for years. The official said negotiations intensified in May.

The official added the US role was one of advocacy and that there were no diplomatic strings attached or quid-pro-quo from the US government.

“We did not get anything or ask for anything in return in terms of the US government,” the official told reporters. “This was hardly something that was a sure thing, if you look back even a period of a couple months ago.”

Senior US officials have been in regular engagement with the Saudis over the deal, but President Joe Biden did not have any direct talks with Saudi leaders, the official added.