BUCHAREST, Romania — Romania’s defense minister says the country will purchase Patriot missiles worth $3.9 billion from the United States in the first half of 2019.

The comments from Defense Minister Mihai Fifor came after Romania’s Senate’s defense committee on Monday formally approved the acquisition of the missiles, which then needs to be approved by the Senate.

Romania’s Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu also confirmed Monday that he told U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was briefly in Romania last week, that the Senate may approve the acquisition this week.

The purchase is part of Romania’s strategic partnership with the U.S and its long-term defense strategy.

Fifor said the missiles would become operational by 2020.

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