The US State Department approved its first major arms sale to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia under US President Joe Biden with the sale of 280 air-to-air missiles valued at up to $650 million, the Pentagon said on Thursday, according to Reuters.

The Pentagon notified Congress of the sale on Thursday, according to the report. If approved, the deal would be the first sale to Saudi Arabia since the Biden administration adopted a policy of selling only defensive weapons to the Gulf ally.

The State Department had approved the sale on October 26, a spokesperson said, adding that the air-to-air missile sale comes after “an increase in cross-border attacks against Saudi Arabia over the past year.”

The sale “is fully consistent with the administration’s pledge to lead with diplomacy to end the conflict in Yemen,” the State Department spokesperson said in a statement.

The air-to-air missiles ensure “Saudi Arabia has the means to defend itself from Iranian-backed Houthi air attacks,” he added.

The package would include 280 AIM-120C-7/C-8 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM), 596 LAU-128 Missile Rail Launchers (MRL) along with containers and support equipment, spare parts, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and technical support.

Biden has worked to recalibrate US relations with Saudi Arabia after the friendly ties his predecessor, Donald Trump, had with Saudi officials.

While Saudi Arabia is an important partner in the Middle East, US lawmakers have criticized Riyadh for its involvement in the war in Yemen and have refused to approve many military sales for the kingdom without assurances US equipment would not be used to kill civilians.

In addition, the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi has also increased tensions between Washington and Riyadh.

Khashoggi was killed and dismembered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. Saudi Arabia admitted that Khashoggi was killed after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, after initially denying Turkish claims that he was murdered.

An intelligence report released in February by the Biden administration said that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved Khashoggi’s murder.

Trump had reaffirmed his support for Saudi Arabia, despite the murder of Khashoggi, insisting the US-Saudi Arabian alliance is beneficial not only for American interests, but also for those of Israel.

Lawmakers from both parties, meanwhile, had called for a strong US response to Khashoggi’s murder.

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