WASHINGTON (Apr. 15)
A State Department spokesman said today that, while the United States will continue to refrain from becoming a major supplier of arms to Middle Eastern nations, “we reserve the right to provide limited amounts of conventional military material to meet legitimate defense needs.” Spokesman Robert McCloskey stressed that requests were dealt with on a “bilateral basis.” He refused to comment on whether the simultaneous announcement of U.S. consideration of arms for Israel and for Arab states was actually a formula to supply some arms to Israel in a manner least offensive to the Arabs.
Mr. McCloskey said that, in deference to the wishes of nations making arms requests, the Department does not divulge the nature of requests or the progress of discussions. He noted that the United States does not grant all requests received. He said: “The United States seeks to avoid contributing to a Near East arms race” but would supply limited arms to nations of the region on a bilateral basis.