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In brief: U.S. soldier faces murder charges

Baghdad – An American soldier was charged Wednesday with killing two fellow U.S. troops and wounding a third after an argument last month in a former Iraqi insurgent stronghold turned deadly.

Army Spc. Neftaly Platero was charged with two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder in a Sept. 23 shooting in Fallujah, about 40 miles west of Baghdad.

A statement issued by the U.S. military in Baghdad described the killings as premeditated. A U.S. military spokesman said Platero was accused of shooting the three soldiers after a verbal altercation.

Platero, 32, from Houston, is being held in pretrial confinement in Kuwait. He will be tried by a military court.

Obama announces arms sale to Saudis

Washington – The Obama administration formally notified Congress on Wednesday of plans to sell Saudi Arabia up to $60 billion worth of arms in a deal aimed at bolstering regional defenses against an ascendant Iran.

The agreement, which will stretch out over as much as 20 years, would be the largest U.S. arms sale ever, if Riyadh buys all that has been authorized.

It would make the kingdom’s aging jet fighter fleet among the most capable in the world, while not adding so much long-distance attack capability as to worry Israeli officials that the weapons could be turned against it.

The deal will allow the Saudis to buy 84 new F-15 aircraft and to upgrade 70 more. It offers them 70 AH 64D Apache Longbow helicopters, 72 UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, 36 AH-61 light attack helicopters and 12 MD-530F helicopters.