AIRSHOW-U.S. arms makers say sales process improving but still too slow

By Andrea Shalal

(Reuters) - American weapons makers this week welcomed a push by U.S. government agencies to better coordinate on arms sales policies, but say most deals still take far too long to process, frustrating potential customers.

Many U.S. arms makers have sought to offset declines in American and European defense spending by boosting international sales, but they regularly complain that slow government approvals of deals frustrates some customers and drives them to look at offers from non-U.S companies.

Puneet Talwar, assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, was among U.S. officials from various agencies who met at the start of the Paris Airshow to coordinate their meetings with U.S. contractors and foreign buyers at the event.

The United States sent about 400 people to the biennial arms and aerospace bazaar, including Air Force Secretary Deborah James and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.

"We are looking holistically at defense advocacy," Talwar told Reuters in an interview. He said the State, Defense and Commerce departments already worked closely on export control reforms, but were now trying to do a better job coordinating their contact with arms firms and potential customer.

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