WASHINGTON (Feb. 1)
The State Department today lauded “the constructive and helpful role the United Arab Republic has played in several current international issues.” and said the Department was encouraged by recent Egyptian policies, and justified the resumption of American aid.
Douglas MacArthur 2nd, Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations, made known the Department’s latest evaluation of the Nasser regime in a letter to Rep. Leonard Farbstein, New York Democrat and member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Rep. Farbstein had protested the resumption of aid to Egypt when that country is purchasing sophisticated new Soviet weapons.
Mr. MacArthur wrote: “Following several months of improvement in U.S.-U.A.R. relations and evidence of increasing U.A.R. attention to internal problems of economic and social development, the President authorized negotiations of a P.L. 480 (surplus commodity) agreement which was signed January 3, 1966. We believe the new agreement provides a basis for expanding U.S.-U.A.R. cooperation, if circumstances warrant. We are encouraged by economic reform measures recently undertaken by the U.A.R. and the constructive and helpful role the U.A.R. has played in several current international issues.”
Commenting on the supply of American arms to the region, in response to Rep. Farbstein’s criticism of massive new transactions with Jordan and Saudi Arabia, Mr. Mac-Arthur said: “In the past 18 years the United States has worked to ease tensions in the Near East. To this end we have tried to avoid becoming a major supplier of arms to Israel or the Arab states. We have agreed occasionally, however, to make sales of specific material not available from other sources to meet internal security and legitimate self-defense needs in some area states including Israel.”
Mr. MacArthur stressed that “in the absence of effective arms control, the United States maintains constant surveillance of military material acquisitions in the Near East and remains determined to oppose aggression.” He noted that “the United States, of course, opposes proliferation of missiles in the Near East whether by contribution to indigenous missile programs or direct acquisition of materiel from abroad.”
The State Department has investigated reported American participation in the Egyptian rocket program and is “satisfied that no U.S. citizens capable of making significant contributions to missile research and development have been or are connected with U.A.R. missile development,” the State Department official stated.
Rep. Farbstein commented that he did not share the Department’s “new evaluation of Egypt as a constructive and helpful peacemaker who merited American aid.” He said “the fact remains that President Nasser has openly threatened a war of aggression against Israel and has been building a huge Soviet-supplied arms arsenal at the expense of domestic development.”