The government will sell tanks to Syria unless the United States provides financial aid to convert Czechoslovakia's arms factories to peaceful uses, a minister said Wednesday.

On Monday, the United States asked President Vaclav Havel's government not to sell weapons to Middle East countries that U.S. officials accuse of sponsoring terrorism."I think that a decision about the export of our tanks worth $200 million to Syria has been taken with final validity," Foreign Trade Minister Jozef Baksay was quoted as saying.

Baksay, who was quoted by the official CTK news agency, did not say how many tanks were involved in the deal. But earlier media reports indicated more than 100 tanks could be exported.