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Pentagon Nominee Vows to Resolve Jordan Arms Sales Delays

Ashton Carter, President Barack Obama’s choice to be defense secretary, testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his nomination to replace Chuck Hagel as Pentagon chief, on Capitol Hill, Washington, Feb. 4, 2015.

President Barack Obama's nominee for defense secretary Ashton Carter on Wednesday vowed to cut through "red tape" slowing U.S. arms deliveries to Jordan, which plans to step up its fight against Islamic State after the killing of a captured Jordanian pilot.

Carter told the Senate Armed Services Committee it was important for Jordan to be able to acquire the weapons it needed, and he would work to address concerns raised by King Abdullah during a meeting with committee members on Tuesday. "We need partners on the ground to beat ISIS," Carter told the committee during a hearing on his nomination, adding that Jordan need help in fighting a "savage and nasty" foe.

Jordan on Wednesday said it would intensify its efforts to "undermine, degrade and eventually finish" Islamic State, also known sometimes as ISIS or ISIL, after the release of video footage said to show the pilot being burned alive in a cage.

Abdullah cut short a visit to Washington after the release of the video. Carter told the hearing he was not familiar with the specific concerns raised by Abdullah but would address the issue promptly if confirmed as defense secretary.

He said he knew well how unnecessary "red tape" could slow deliveries of equipment, and had seen similar issues regarding weapons needed by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan during his previous jobs in the Pentagon. He said he could "well believe" that arms deliveries to Jordan were proceeding slower than King Abdullah or U.S. officials found acceptable.

Committee Chairman Senator John McCain said some committee members planned to send a letter to the Obama administration on Wednesday underscoring the need to ensure that Jordan had the weapons it needed to fight Islamic State militants.

"As we made clear to King Abdullah in our meeting yesterday, this committee's immediate concern is to ensure Jordan has all of the equipment and resources necessary to continue taking the fight directly to ISIL," McCain said.

He said the committee would also consider proposing legislation if needed to achieve goals outlined by the king during his meeting with committee members. It was not immediately clear which arms shipments were being held up. The State Department, which oversees foreign military sales, had no immediate comment on the issue.

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