Truman Announces Big-three Agreement on Supplying Arms to Israel and Arab States

President Truman today announced that a major agreement has been reached between the United States, Britain and France with regard to the question of supplying arms and war material to the Arab states and Israel on the basis of their needs to maintain a certain level of armed forces for the purpose of assuring their internal security and their legitimate self-defense. The possibility that they may play a part in the defense of the Middle Eastern area as a whole was also taken into consideration.

The text of the agreement, which was made public today (see page 2) simultaneously in Washington, London and Paris, was handed over this morning by the State Department separately to the diplomatic representatives of the Arab states and to Israel Ambassador Eliahu Elath. In announcing the agreement at his press conference today, President Truman said:

“The participation of the United States Government in the declaration emphasizes this country’s desire to promote the maintenance of peace in the Near East. It is the belief of the United States Government that the declaration will stimulate, in the Arab countries and Israel, increased confidence in future security, thus accelerating the progress now being made in the Near East and contributing toward the well being of the peoples there.”

Top-level government officials, commenting on the American-British-French declaration, said that there is every evidence that the document will be well received by Israel and the Arab states. They pointed out that the U.S. Government does not expect the three-power agreement to result in an increase of activity in the arms race between Israel and the Arab countries. They also expressed the hope that the agreement will encourage Arab-Israel negotiations for peace treaties through the U.N. Palestine Conciliation Commission.

CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS CONSULTED BEFORE AGREEMENT WAS DRAWN UP

American diplomats hailed the agreement as an indication that the three powers will act together on Middle East policy. An apparatus for the exchange of information among the three powers on the arms situation in the Middle East and shipments to that area has been created, they revealed. They also revealed that Congressional leaders were consulted by the State Department before the three-powers declaration was drawn up.

State Department officials emphasized the fact that Israel has received more American munitions than the Arab states. They also insist that the U.S. Government is completely satisfied that there is no threat to peace in the Middle East and that none of the states in that area has aggressive intentions, nor is any state now in a position to launch effective aggressive warfare.

Sources close to the State Department’s Munitions Export Control Section insisted today that Israel has submitted a list of arms she wishes to buy and that the arms, with some exceptions, have been generally approved. The quantity Israel has received here was said to be considerable, although it was added that the total arms shipments to the Middle East were of insignificant proportions. Only arms commercia- ly available are being licensed for sale by the United States. Jet planes, however, are considered in this category, it was indicated.

It was also revealed here today that the U.S. Government stipulated that the joint American-British-French doclaration should have no bearing on the State Department’s consideration of any perticular arms list submitted by the Israel Government for approval. On the other hand, it was indicated that the U.S. will maintain a rough balance of power between Israel and the Arab states through the continuous exchange of information with Great Britain.

The general purpose of the joint declaration was said here to be directed toward the prevention of anxiety by instilling a feeling of arms security in both Arabs and Jews. Officials expressed the hope that the assurances voiced in the declaration will pacify the Middle East area rather than stimulate an arms race there.

Although the declaration expressed opposition to the violation of frontiers or armistice lines, it was stressed in official circles today that this should not be taken to mean that it was an actual guarantee that Congressional approval would have been necessary before the U.S. Government could have participated in such an assurance. Government officials admitted that the declaration was deliberately vague about just what action the U.S. might take to prevent violations. They emphasized that it was not the intention of the declaration to freeze existing armistice lines.

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