June 6, 2023

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White House praises Saudi-Boeing deal, says it will support U.S. jobs By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner taxis past the Final Assembly Building at Boeing South Carolina in North Charleston, South Carolina, United States, March 31, 2017. REUTERS/Randall Hill/File Photo

By David Shepardson and Jarrett Renshaw

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House on Tuesday welcomed the “landmark” deal between Saudi Arabia and the Boeing (NYSE:) Co, saying it will support U.S. jobs and marked a milestone in cooperation between Saudi Arabia and American industry.

Two Saudi airlines agreed to buy 78 Boeing 737 Dreamliners and took options to buy another 43.

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 Chief Executive 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 reemphasizing 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.”

A U.S. official said the Saudi contract was a “white whale” for Boeing, something the planemaker pursued for several years. The official said negotiations really started to intensify last year around May.

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

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

Senior U.S. officials have been in regular engagement with the Saudis over the deal, but Biden did not have any direct talks with Saudi leaders.

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