The US has confirmed it will offer a huge arms deal to Saudi Arabia and other Arab states to ward off Iran’s growing threat to stability in the region.

Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice says the deal, worth $20bn over the next decade, is intended to reassure American allies during what she termed a ‘complicated’ moment in the Middle East.

The proposed deal for Saudi Arabia includes air-to-air missiles, advanced precision-guided bombs, upgrades to its fighters and new naval vessels.

Other allies in the area, including Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates could also receive equipment in the deal.

To counter possible objections, Israel will be offered significantly increased military aid.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says he understands the reasons behind the move.

“We understand the need of the United States to support the Arab moderate states and there is a need for a united front between the US and us regarding Iran,” he says.