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06:19 PM, December 11, 2018
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US Blocks Israel’s Sale of 12 F-16's to Croatia
F-16 multi-role fighter aircraft (image: Lockheed Martin)

United States (US) Secretary of Defence James Mattis has refused to approve the sale of 12 F-16 combat aircraft to Croatia.

The US government must approve the sale of its planes sold to any country. Sources close to the Trump administration have reportedly revealed Trump was upset with the modification of the aircraft by Israel that has led to Croatia accept the Israeli offer, Voice of Croatia reported Friday.

The US embassy in Croatia has issued a statement that the nation strongly supports Croatia in its desire to modernize its air force and to be interoperable with allies in NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization).

"For more than a year we have been working with Israel on the details of the proposed F-16 aircraft purchase. During these talks we were consistent and clear regarding technical conditions under which we can approve the sale," Voice of Croatia quoted the embassy as saying Friday, adding that they are currently working actively with Israel and Croatia in order to find an acceptable solution that is suitable to Croatia's needs within the given deadline.

“From their statement, which I only saw briefly, it is clear that they are very interested in resolving this problem, if it exists to that degree. I don’t believe the deal will fall through,” Prime Minister Andrej Plenković was quoted as saying by Voice of Croatia.

“It is a fact that the government of the United States of America gave the state of Israel approval to offer the Israeli F-16 to Croatia and we have that document. The second fact is that the state of Israel has taken on the obligation in their offer to deliver a NATO compatible aircraft to Croatia and that the prolonging of its life span will be done with the approval of the original producer, Lockheed Martin. And third, the approval for delivering the planes to Croatia is the responsibility of the state of Israel,” said Damir Krstičević, Croatian Minister of Defence, the report further stated.

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