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State Dept. Reverses Stand on Nuclear Desalination Plan for Middle East

The State Department has reversed itself and given warm endorsement to a Republican-sponsored plan that would use nuclear energy to provide desalinated water for the Middle East. The plan, first advanced last spring by former President Eisenhower, calls for establishment of an international company, patterned after the Communications Satellite Corporation, that would construct three large nuclear desalting plants in the Middle East. The dual-purpose plants would be operated by the International Atomic Energy Agency, and water and electricity would be provided on a regional basis to such countries as Israel, Jordan and the United Arab Republic.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday released the testimony of two State Department officials who appeared before the committee on Nov. 17 and endorsed the Eisenhower plan – although they continued to maintain that a settlement of the “basic psychological and political problems between Israel and the Arab states” must precede the implementation of such forms of regional economic cooperation as the desalting proposal. Previously, the State Department had opposed the Eisenhower plan outright.

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