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Six Arab lands OK plan to protect Gulf sea lanes

Military chiefs from six Arab countries have reached agreement on a collective air defense plan for their oil tanker routes and coastlines in the lower Persian Gulf, diplomatic sources report. The plan, which will expand upon patrol flights already begun by Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, was drawn up Wednesday by the Gulf Cooperation Council.

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The collective air umbrella would be linked to US-owned and operated AWACS radar planes, which are on loan to Saudi Arabia. Officials discarded the idea of providing naval escorts for tankers along a new route close to the coastlines of the six countries, diplomatic sources said.

The council's members are Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, and Oman.

The US Defense Department announced plans Wednesday to sell Kuwait equipment to improve its US-made Hawk air defense system.

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