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Pentagon vows to help Israel keep military superiority

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Washington (AFP) – US Defense Secretary Mark Esper pledged Tuesday to help maintain Israel’s military superiority in the Middle East, amid its concerns over a possible US sale of F-35 fighters to the United Arab Emirates.”A cornerstone of our defense relationship is preserving Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region,” Esper said as he welcomed Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz to the Pentagon.”The United States is committed to that, and the Department of Defense is committed to that imperative. We will continue to support the longstanding US policy to maintain Israel’s security,” s…

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NASA says probe successfully stowed sample from asteroid

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NASA said Thursday its robotic spacecraft Osiris-Rex was able to stow a rock and dust sample scooped up from the asteroid Bennu, after a flap that had wedged open put the mission at risk.

"We are here to announce today that we've successfully completed that operation," said Rich Burns, the mission's project manager.

The probe is on a mission to collect fragments that scientists hope will help unravel the origins of our solar system, but hit a snag after it picked up too big of a sample.

Fragments from the asteroid's surface in a collector at the end of the probe's three-meter (10-foot) arm had been slowly escaping into space because some rocks prevented the compartment from closing completely.

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In regional game-changer, US seeks to sell F-35 jets to UAE

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The United States has agreed to sell more than $10 billion of top-of-the-line F-35 fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates to reward its recognition of Israel, potentially reshaping power dynamics in the turbulent region, Congress was informed Thursday.

In an informal but required notification to Congress, President Donald Trump's administration said it had approved the sale of 50 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters -- equivalent to Israel's fleet of the jets -- worth an estimated $10.4 billion, a congressional aide said.

If it goes ahead, the sale could "significantly change the military balance in the Gulf and affect Israel's military edge," said Representative Eliot Engel, a Democrat who leads the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

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US sells oil seized from Iran to Venezuela for $40 million

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The United States said Thursday that it had sold Iranian oil seized on its way to Venezuela for more than $40 million.

Washington announced in August that it had confiscated 1.1 million barrels of petroleum from four tankers en route between the two countries, which are both under US sanctions.

"We estimate that in excess of $40 million will be recouped by the United States related to the sale of petroleum from those four vessels," Michael Sherwin, the acting US attorney for the District of Columbia, told reporters by telephone.

He said a "great portion" of it would be contributed to a US fund for victims of "state-sponsored terrorism."

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