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Germany Interested in Buying Mortars from Israel. Bonn Indicates

The West German Defense Ministry indicated today it would be interested in buying an Israel-made mortar which tests have indicated to be superior in lightness of weight, performance and price.

This was indicated in a statement in which the Defense Ministry said it was buying mortar shells and not grenade-throwers in the agreement which has brought about a Cabinet crisis in Israel. The Israel offer to sell 250,000 mortar shells, it was reported here, followed indications on the world armaments market that the West German Republic was seeking to buy such ammunition.

West German officials said the agreement on the mortar shells was made through Establishments Salgat, a Lichtenstein-based company which sells Finnish-made mortar shells. Such shells are made, among other firms, by Soltam, Ltd., of Haifa, which makes them under Finnish licenses.

Sources here suggested that the confusion over the nature of the arms Israel is selling West Germany probably arose from translation of the German word for mortar which is “granatwerfer,” which looks like “grenade throwers.” The West German Defense Ministry said that it was buying mortar shells from Israel.